A new support package designed to increase allotments in areas of Wales where they most needed has been announced by Social Farms & Gardens (SF&G), working in partnership with the Welsh Government.
The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better as National Allotment Week, which is this year themed ‘Growing Food for Health and Wellbeing, runs until Sunday, August 16.
More than £130,000 is being invested over the next nine months to help Welsh communities, housing associations and local authorities, including town and community councils, meet a growing demand for allotments.
The development funding will support the creation of new allotment sites, allow under used sites and plots to be turned into productive areas and new toolkits and guidance will be created to encourage others to do more to meet public interest in growing their own.
Over the last six months, Social Farms & Gardens has been mapping the current provision of allotments and other community growing spaces, including community orchards, Incredible Edible Projects, community gardens and community supported agriculture sites. The map shows a diverse range of provision across all corners of Wales.
Research was also carried out on waiting lists for allotments, including the numbers of people on them and the length of time people may be waiting. The research revealed a number of sites in Wales where there are large numbers of people on a list, with some waiting many years to access a plot. The new funding will target those areas first.
Gary Mitchell, Wales manager for Social Farms & Gardens, said:
“Allotments are part of our heritage. They have been a means for people to provide food and sustenance since the 1800s, but now, perhaps more than ever, we as a society are more interested in where our food comes from and how it is grown.
“Allotments provide an important space for us to control those elements. They provide a boost to our health and wellbeing, are great for adding biodiversity to urban settings and provide a space for social interactions. This funding, support and vision from Welsh Government really will make a difference in the areas we can support.”
“The Welsh Government recognises the importance of allotments, not only as a means to producing affordable food, but for the health benefits they offer to plot holders, for the biodiversity they encourage even in the most urban of areas and for the important part they play in social cohesion,” said First Minister Mark Drakeford.
“This funding, supporting one of the First Minister’s priorities to increase allotment provision in Wales, is being delivered through a co-ordinated approach. Based on recent research, it is being targeted on evidence of need.
“Social Farms & Gardens have been active on the ground in Wales for many years and are wholly connected to the community food chain.
“Although Wales is known for its agriculture and is rural in nature, the demand for allotments exists in every local authority area, not just the larger cities and more urban conurbations. This funded work will help to ensure access to allotments is improved in areas where it is most needed.”
Social Farms & Gardens – https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/ – is a UK wide charity supporting communities to farm, garden and grow together. With a membership in excess of 1,500, the charity is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary and has HRH Prince of Wales as its patron.
For more information about the allotments development fund, contact Gary Mitchell on [email protected] or Tel: 02920 225942.