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London's oldest surviving allotment is facing the threat of being built on thanks to plans by its landlord to construct a new housing development on part of the allotment site. 

We desperately need to raise funds to pay for legal and specialist advice to help save our much loved allotments. 
If you can spare just a few pound we would be very grateful for your help and support.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/ealingdean

In early September 2016 the charity, Pathways, contacted plotholders at Northfield Allotments in Ealing to announce its proposal to build on 10% of the allotments. The development would include a five to six story block of social housing and four houses for sale to help fund the development.

Northfield Allotments are the oldest allotments in London. They were given by the Bishop of London to the people of Ealing in 1832, and are held as a permanent endowment. The charity Pathways is our landlord and the site is managed by a committee of seven plotholders. There are 141 plots.

OUR COMMUNITY

The plotholders are a diverse range of ages and nationalities. Twenty nine of our plotholders live in flats – this is their only garden. We have around 50 children who have a safe place to play and learn about fruit and veg and get a chance to see tadpoles, stag beetles, bats and hedgehogs.
There are more than 25 pensioners who have a place to grow their own food and there is always company, someone to talk to. You are never alone when you have an allotment. People are friendly here and we share seedlings and produce.

We have counted 27 different nationalities – the only qualification to getting a plot is a love of gardening and the patience to wait on our waiting list (currently 72 people).

OUR WILDLIFE

The hedgerow around the site is around 900m long and has been designated, by Ealing Borough council, a SINC - Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. It is an important and safe habitat for our hedgehogs, many nesting birds and insects. The allotments are a habitat for stag beetles, which are endangered and protected. With perfect timing the many visitors to our Halloween open day saw our bats flying around the site catching night flying insects.

NO CHOICE?

On the 25th September at a special general meeting, the plotholders unanimously voted to oppose Pathways’ plans to concrete over the allotments.
We understand that social housing is important – but so are green open spaces. It shouldn’t have to be a choice of one or the other. We believe Pathways’ trustees have not fully considered alternatives to their proposal to ‘temporarily’ move 18 residents into what will be a permanent development on the allotments.

We believe a permanent endowment should be permanent.

OUR CONCERN

The original allotments were much larger than they are today: 60% of the allotments were lost in the 1970s due to compulsory purchase by the council and building by Pathways. Our concern is that if planning permission is granted this time around it will be easier to lose more allotment land in the future as the pressure for housing so close to a Crossrail station increases.

When we lose green space we never get it back.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Please write to your local councillors to let them know what you think of the proposal.
  • Write to the Ealing Gazette and Ealing and Northfield forums.
  • Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with what is going on.
  • We need specialist help, especially once the plans are submitted to Ealing Council. This will cost money. So, please help by donating whatever you can to our fighting fund.

Please help us protect the allotments for another 184 years.

Many thanks for all your help and support.

The Ealing Dean Allotment Society.

I’m going to leave the final word to Fran, one of our plotholders (who will lose her plot if the development goes ahead)…

“My allotment means a lot to me - we live in a third floor social housing flat with no access to a garden of our own. In 18 months my daughter and I have transformed the plot from weeds and brambles to our own little patch of heaven and my daughter has learned so much she never would have been able to before, from where our food comes from to the lifecycle of the frog - and she now wants to be a gardener when she grows up.”


As usual, we will be running a Volunteer Day on the first Saturday of the month. The next Volunteer Day will be on Saturday the 4th of April (starting at 10 am) when we will be working to restore the 'Long Walk' (this is the central path that runs the whole length of the site). After many years of muddy boots and heavy wheelbarrows it has become uneven and rutted. During winter it was very muddy and dangerously slippery.

So the sand and grass seed has been ordered and turf is on its way! This is our chance to make the path easier to walk along and, more importantly, safer for our older plot holders.

We hope you will join us to help out and feel part of our gardening community!

Volunteer Day Saturday April 4th - 10 am

Continuing my interest in "old things" my new blog continues with items that we found in the hedgerow clearance. On Saturday 7th March we had a volunteer day that cleared rubbish from the north section of the allotment by Northfield Avenue.
Amongst the plastic bottles and metal cans i was lucky to find a bit of metal that made my day.
I found a small Pick Mattock head. The name often changes from book to book but the name Pick Mattock is listed in the 1951 Brades catalogue. This head is a lot smaller than you would expect for a mattock or pick axe.

I have been looking into historical practices in allotments, things like the types of crops grown. I recently bought a pocket handbook from 1942 that was published by the National Allotments Society LTD which still exists today.
The book is a pocket book and literally it fits in your pocket and what i like about it is that the owner has written in it, giving a real slice of 1942. In April is written "set Peas on 21st, Californian Poppies and Cress on 30th".

Here are some other highlights from the handbook:

Saturday 7th February was our first work day of the new year and the first day of our new project to sort out the hedgerow that encloses the allotments. It's a long long time since the hedgerow had been cleared and it was clear to see that a lot of rubbish and other things had accumulated over the years. What better way to start the year than a spring clean? As ever, the work was easier thanks to a bunch of volunteers both allotment holders and other members of the local community.

Northfield Allotments - Hedgerow restoration

Our local council is Ealing... and they have recently launched a new website to encourage local residents to volunteer. 

The site was launched last week and Simon and I were asked to do a short talk to explain our project - the Radbourne Walk.

Simon and Christine - Ealing Dean Allotment Society

It seems that many people want to know how to correctly prune their fruit trees. You may have an old tree that looks like a monster or just bought a new young tree and want to know how to create the best shape for fruit production.

I personally looked at various sources of information in old books and leaflets but i found that videos really gave the best help because you get a chance to see actual trees being pruned in real situations. Also these videos are made professional nurserymen with years of experience in most cases.

I have selected 17 videos, yep i said 17 and if you manage to watch them all i really think you will feel confident in understanding what to do and what NOT to do when pruning fruit tree. Don't just watch a couple then think that is enough, the repetition in the videos helps ingrain the knowledge into your brain . . . i didn't say brain-washing!

Pruning trees

Why does Santa need three allotments?

wheelbarrow in winter - Ealing allotments

So my alarn goes off at 8.00 on Saturday morning and any sensible person would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. But I drag myself out of bed and look out the window....all I can see is frost.

Frosty morning in Ealing Dean Allotments

Have you ever wondered what Ealing looked like a hundred years ago. Well there are plenty of photos around that show you what is was like but i came across a video the other day of Ealing Broadway in 1901, a video, well a film more than video. It is not a long film but the quality is good and it really so much more than a still photo. The awnings in the front of the shop blowing in the breeze, the horse and cart, children running in front the tram.

Do you find objects in the soil on your plot? Like most people stones seem to constantly appear in the ground by themselves but from time to time i find other things.
The most common for me is bits of old clay pipes and Stoneware bottles. I only find fragments but i always like to imagine a plot holder from 100 years ago stopping for a drink of ginger beer or lemonade.

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