It’s the good life at the allotments

MORE families will have the chance to join the ‘grow your own’ revolution after an allotments’ society received a cash boost.

Heage Road Allotments in Ripley has been granted £3,500 to redevelop a patch of ‘unmanageable’ and ‘overgrown’ land on the site thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.

The 900-sq yard patch is currently being covered in tonnes of topsoil, which will open up the popular allotment site to six more local families by March 1.

Chairman of Heage Road Allotments Society Mike Brown said: “It’s good news. It’s going to remove a piece of land that we couldn’t keep under control.

“It will make great use of it when there’s a demand for allotments and it helps reduce our waiting list, which was in double figures until only recently.”

The land set to make way for the six new 150-sq yard plots is already owned by the allotment association.

It was cleared in 2002 with hazel and willow trees planted there. A neighbouring orchard of apple and pear trees was also planted.

But retired Mike, 69, of Amber Heights, said weeds grew out of control around the newly planted trees and the site became ‘unmanageable’.

Two years ago the association met to discuss what to do with the land and members voted to have the space turned into additional plots. In January 2011 the group began applying for the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All scheme.

Mike said fellow plot holder and secretary and treasurer of the association Mike Stevenson was the driving force behind the move. Mr Stevenson slavishly obtained all the quotes needed from local contractors while putting together the bid.

Mr Stevenson said the hard work had certainly paid off.

He said: “We feel this is a really pro-active effort to make the most of the land.”

Mr Stevenson added that club membership was currently at an all time high. There are currently 44 plots taken there. Recently some members agreed to allow half of their plot to be used by another family with demand so high, which could take the number of plots to 55.

Mr Stevenson said: “I think people have just become more aware of healthy living and the social benefits of having a plot, you get to meet new people talk to people all the time.”