Today’s Advent Calendar window opens on the Winter Solstice for our Community Allotment. Why, because on the shortest day we can look forward to longer warmer days, and get out to be doing more gardening! And that is exactly the point of our Community Allotment, to inspire everyone to either join us on our plot and/or start growing food and flowers either for themselves and our community!
Wellingborough Eco Group took on this plot at Ladywell allotments in Wellingborough last year, to give people the chance to share skills and to grow plants. The site was cleared in November 2020 and has, with many hours, many hands, and with a few additions of various buildings, fences and paths, plus tons of soil and compost, been developed into a user-friendly space to grow fruit, vegetables and other plants to benefit the community. Watch our first video back in February to see how we were getting on and our plan:
Our plan was that everyone should be able to use the plot, so hard standing for car parking, and access to a covered area near the entrance was seen as a must. Spaces for two cars have been provided at the front of the plot. A covered 12′ X 8′ ‘gazebo’ has been put up on the right as you enter plot. A fence separating the parking strip from the rest of the plot was also installed.
A hard path was then laid to a woodchip covered area where we have erected two greenhouses and two sheds. Amongst these we installed two raised beds and a speedboat, plus lots of compost bins and water buts. And then of course there’s the weeding, cultivating and planting! With many hands, we managed to fill the Community Allotment with fruit, veg and flowers, and by the summertime the plot was filled with abundance and beauty; here are just a few of the hundreds of photos we shared on the progress, of the people and about rewards of our efforts:
In addition to giving people the opportunity to try allotment gardening, we have lots of learning opportunities with demonstrations on all aspects of growing produce. We share plants and produce with each other at the allotment, at our Swap Shops, and with other community organisations. We also have a seed bank, to share with other allotment holders and for individuals to plant in their gardens; and an allotment library in the gazebo so that everyone to share gardening books and magazines. And we do more than grow fruit and veg…
Trees and Bees
The Community Allotment project also includes our Tree Nursery, which we have had next to the Community Allotment plot for three and a half years. Originally, we planted 28 whips (10 rowan, 9 cherry trees, 9 silver birch) that had been donated by Woodland Trust to Welly Trees and 1 field maple which was much larger, left over from residents planting trees in Third Avenue. Fifteen of these have been donated to other community groups to plant in and around Wellingborough. The others, including several more additions, are now between six and ten foot tall!
Earlier this year we took 50 oaks from Extinction Rebellion Rewilding, and planted 30 of them in a circle on a further plot next to the Tree Nursery, with the other 20 being planted on the Community Allotment. In July, Martine, a Wellingborough Eco Group Member, brought her bees to live with us in our ring of oak trees, amongst the bee friendly flowers we have there. We now have three hives in operation and lots of bees! Here Jonathan is on video again, this time showing us around the Community Allotment and Tree Nursery today:
Last month we extended the Tree Nursery into the space between where the older trees are and where the ring of oaks were planted, for a further 210 trees that we ordered from the Woodland Trust via Glamis Hall. These are to be planted for the Queen’s Green Canopy project, to celebrate her platinum jubilee. This project is a collection of partners including us, Glamis Hall and Castlefields Community Group, that is working with the local councils to plant trees in the town.
We received 105 of the whips and have planted them in this new space to grow them on. These trees are 15 Grey Willow, 15 Wild Cherry, 15 Silver Birch, 15 Pendunculate Oaks and 45 Rowan. The other 105 have just been delivered, which are a further 30 rowan, 15 crab apple, 15 dog rose, 15 blackthorn, 15 hazel and 15 elder, and will be planted in the new year.
Would you like to grow with us?
Anyone can volunteer at the Community Allotment, you don’t have to know anything about gardening and tools will be provided. The project is as much about community as it is allotment, so just join in, make new friends and be part of something that will benefit the town and all of us! We have regular working parties at the allotment, socially distanced of course!
The Working Parties are set up as events on our dedicated Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/communityallotment, and are put on our blog, please let us know if you are coming so that we can meet you at the gates to the allotment. We do hope that you have enjoyed this article and our videos, and that you may now be a little inspired, see you soon!