Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Prelate's plot

Having been impressed by Rowan Williams at the Iraq service held in St Paul's I note that he has now moved on the promoting allotments!

'The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for “unsustainable” air-freighted food to be replaced gradually by homegrown produce from thousands of new allotments.'

Well down on the plot this month I've planted some garlic and overwintering onions and thought about renewing my asparagus bed. The autumn clearing up has begun- which is far superior to visiting the gym.

It is not clear from the Times article whether Rowan Williams tends his own plot or whether, like the Queen, he has just caused one to be created to encourage the rest of us but the report does say:

'The Archbishop was playing his part, he said, by consuming vegetables from a plot in Lambeth Palace. His family also received regular deliveries of locally grown produce'.

There is one small challenge that needs to be confronted and that is to identify where these thousands of new plots are going to come from. In Sefton we have a new strategy document coming forward which I hope will make progress in that direction. Mind you when we discussing the plan for building land at cabinet-it is reckoned we need an extra 500 homes a year-the officer misunderstood Ronnie Fearn's question about allotment land thinking it may be an option for developers. We put him right.

One way to tackle the plot shortage is to link up all those with unwanted gardens with those who want a plot. Schemes like this have been tried often in the past and there have been success. I caught a bit of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage programme on Channel 4 where he is promoting such a scheme.

Landshare has just launched a web to allow growers to find landowners. Todate there are about 90 growers registered on Merseyside and over 200 in Lancashire. I think this is the sort of scheme that could well be successful in Southport. There are lots of big gardens which have defeated their now elderly owners and a big allotment waiting list. I don't fancy the idea of the council binding the project up with red tape but would encourage 'transitional Towns' and other similar bodies to promote landshare

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