Allotments enjoy a revival

IPSWICH has become a town of allotment holders - with seven fields full up and more than 500 people on the waiting list.The recession has meant more people than ever are going back to the land to grow their own food as allotment holders say it is not only a cheaper way of life but is also an inexpensive and active pastime.

IPSWICH has become a town of allotment holders - with seven fields full up and more than 500 people on the waiting list.

The recession has meant more people than ever are going back to the land to grow their own food as allotment holders say it is not only a cheaper way of life but is also an inexpensive and active pastime.

Latest figures from Ipswich Borough Council show that more residents are taking up allotments - with seven fields full and five others showing occupancy rates of between 90 per cent and 98 per cent.

Top of the list are fields in Castle Hill, Felixstowe Road, Holywells, Morland Road, Northgate, Sidegate Lane and Spring Road.

Following closely behind are Aster Road, Back Hamlet, Bramford Lane, Colchester Road and a second Spring Road site.

There are raised beds at Castle Hill and Colchester Road fields and these are used by schools and by people with disabilities. Many schools also have their own plots or visit existing fields to learn how to grow their own produce and about wildlife as some have their own nature reserves.

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Judy Terry, arts, culture and leisure portfolio-holder at the council, said: “These are very encouraging statistics. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of growing your own food - and eating it. It's good exercise and provides good crops of additive-free produce.

“We have worked very hard with the allotment holders and put a lot of investment in, which has made a difference, like improving fencing, putting a toilet in at Morland Road, and ensuring there are storage facilities on most sites.

“There are raised beds on certain sites now for people who may not be able to manage the bigger plots. It means they can still engage with the community.”

The council runs 18 allotment fields and works closely with each field secretary. Rents are �34 a year for a 10-rod plot and �17 for a half-plot.

Are you an allotment holder and have a view on this? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Derrick Holder, chairman of the Ipswich Allotment Holders Association, said: “There are 500 people on the waiting list. I think it is to do with the price of food now. With the credit crunch going on, it makes sense to buy a packet of seeds for 60 pence and get 100 cauliflowers out of it. A lot of people are saving money doing this.

“We are getting more mothers come with their children and they enjoy the day out. They bring sandwiches and make it a fun day out.

“I bring my grandchildren there at weekends and they enjoy it too.”

Bob McNay, 64, who has an allotment in Aster Road, said: “I have had an allotment since 1974. I like it because of the fresh food. It is also good exercise, fresh air and camaraderie with the other plot holders.

“I took early retirement and now go to the allotment everyday. We are more or less self-sufficient. We grow everything-all fruits and vegetables.

“We have also got a wildlife pond. I really enjoy my time there.”

Chris Simpson, 54, who is chairman of the Belstead Allotment Field, said: “This is my third year of having an allotment.

“My father and his father always had allotments and gardening has been in my family. It is something that I always wanted to do but never had time when I was at work. I took early retirement and I am so enthusiastic about allotments now.

“It is fresh food-there is nothing like it. I picked asparagus the other day and within half an hour I was eating it. It is the challenge of growing things, the taste, the community. It is a great joy to see young people there and it is all about encouraging people to grow their own food.”

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