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.”


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:

As usual, we will be running our volunteer day on the first Saturday of the month. The next volunteer day is Saturday 7th of March (starting at 10.00 am) when we will continue to work on the hedgerow. With your help last month we removed litter and rubbish from the hedgerow all along the right hand side of the main gate. Thanks again for your help, it's made a huge difference! This month we will be doing the same on the hedgerow along the left hand side of the main gate, we would love for you to join us.

Removing the litter and rubbish will improve the look of the site and improve wildlife habitat. We will be removing some of the fencing panels to get access to the mounds of bottles, cans and general rubbish that has accumulated over the years.

We started the Radbourne Walk clean up in February 2014 and held monthly volunteering days on the first Saturday of each month. We worked on one section at a time the volunteers removed litter, rubble, metal, plastic and glass. We found a lot more rubbish than expected and created enough rubbish for two skips. We cleaned the tarmac path to remove muddy puddles and turned over the soil and introduced wildflower annuals to the front section in four main areas. We removed unwanted plant species like Japanese Knotweed and we also added Stag beetle areas with log piles dug into the ground.

In November 2013 Christina Fox came to me with an idea to improve the path that runs beside the Allotments. I will let her explain How it all began . . .
Greater than the sum of their parts. If you try neat gin it's not that great, neither is tonic water. But, when you put the two together you have a winner. Sometimes ideas are like that. One on its own won't go anywhere - but put two discoveries together and you might have something special.
Inspiring moment No 1...

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