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.

Our summer open day will be on Saturday 1st July 1pm-5pm. Please come along to see this wonderful place.

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.”


Time flies so quickly... It seems like only last week that we had the April volunteer workday working on the Long Walk, the main path through the allotment.  
With over 15 people we made good progress with most of the path in the southern half of the site.  But that was April and its now virtually the start of May...

Our May volunteer day will be on Saturday 2nd May and this time we'll be working on patches of the Long Walk on the northern half of the site.  Some sections got attention last year, but still there are many areas with bumps and undulation that make it unpleasant in wet weather (and downright difficult with a loaded wheelbarrow!).

When: From 10 AM, Saturday 2nd May
Where: Meet at the double gate in the centre of the site (and right by the bus stops) - map below
Until: We usually go on till around 1PM when we'll stop for a barbeque lunch.

Installation work on this pump started in April 2105.The first thing i did was remove the very heavy concrete slab on top of the plot. It was then that i discovered that the well was half full of rubbish. The image right show the top of the well with the metal barrel construction damaged or bend over on purpose. Once i looked down into the well i could see a roll of carpet, soil and plastic flower pots.

Mr R. W. Weal was the tenant of plot 229 from 1946 until 1993 when his son Dennis Weal took over the plot. In the decades after WW2 a number of plot holders built their own wells as there was no mains water on the allotment until around 1995. Mr R Weal dug his well which is constructed of metal water tanks placed on top of each other with the bottom cut out. He also installed a K4 Semi-Rotary pump to extract the water.

Just as the EDAS committee is tackling management and maintenance problems on the allotments today, the committee set up in 1833 had to grapple with the issues of its day, gradually finding its way as it learned from experience. Fortunately, our committee does not have to deal with rent collection, the most pressing concern for our predecessors. But there is a clear parallel in getting to grip with letting the vacant plots. And do you have one of the "gravelly pieces"?

Ealing Dean Allotments Committee minutes 9 July 1835

You know sometimes you just like something, and you don’t have to have a good reason why . . . Steelydan comes to mind.
Well Allotment pumps is like that for me. I started the Allotment pump project a month or so ago and i have now completed the installation of two pumps. This is good timing because we have no mains water at this time so it gives us a chance to feel how it was in the days gone by on the allotment when they had no mains water. We have only had mains water for the last 20 years or so for the previous 160 years they had to find water from other sources, the ponds, watercourse and wells.

We will be having the first official skip of the year for plot holders on Sat. 18th April.
The skip is for plot holders to use to remove rubbish from their plots. The previous skips were filled up very quickly, within the same day, so we recommend that you get your rubbish ready to put in on the Saturday. When the skip is full we will put a tarpaulin over it. Please DO NOT leave items beside the skip. We will be having another skip in a few months time.

** Update: The skip should be on-site by 10am on Saturday morning **

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.

In 1858, fifty allotment tenants signed a petition requesting that they be allowed to work on Sunday morning, before 8 a.m. The Bishop of London, when agreeing to allow the allotments on Ealing Dean Common, made it a condition that no-one should work on the Lord's day. This left the plotholders little time to tend their plots after their work in the week.

Ealing Dean Allotments Sunday Working Petition Text

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:

Pages