A year ago the smallest of our five sites only had 6 plotholders and just over a third of its 22 plots occupied. The site has no signboard and is near enough invisible as it’s accessed by an unsightly track between a garage and a grocery-cum-late-night-off-licence, so even people who know the area well still have no idea about this little oasis of vegetation.
Over the past year or so things have started to change, mainly through the link-up and partnership between the Association and the Unity Hubb based at St.Margarets Church – a stone’s throw from the site. For some years Washwood Heath Nursery School has been renting a plot for ‘Forest School’ activities with their 3-4 year olds. Last year another local nursery school and Thornton Primary School took up the idea of taking on a plot too. They all have limited outdoor areas so this was a chance for the children to connect with the natural world and to grow food crops and flowers.
Though it’s very near to the busy Washwood Heath Road and shopping centre, the site is a haven of peace and calm, and has birds as well as a fox and cubs appreciating the trees and overgrown empty plots.
Over the winter months, the New Shoots Gardening Club started up, with financial help from the Ageing Better Fund, and started to draw in people who had limited or no experience of growing food crops and for retired plotholders and others who like gardening but a whole plot is too much to manage. People started to visit. Then the lockdown happened, dashing hopes that the Club would really begin to take off. Instead the site has become a base for distributing ‘Grow-Your-Own-At-Home’ kits through the Club, and strengthening the links with Unity Hubb. Longstanding plot-holders like Roy, Chris and Steve have given their time, energy, equipment and tools to help things along and so lots of people out in the community are now aware of the value of St.Margarets Road allotment site in supporting households through the Coronavirus crisis.
Meantime, new people wanting to rent a plot there has jumped – so by the end of the year, the site could be nearly full up.