Waiting lists of up to 9 years across different areas of Wales have led to calls for more to be done to increase growing spaces across the country. Growing your own vegetables is becoming ever more popular, with allotments still being the prime location for most if they can get their hands on a vacant plot.
The summit, which took place at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, aims to address the problem of waiting lists and how more allotment sites can be made available to the communities who want them, but is also looking to provide those with private allotments with more rights. Although legally councils should provide more growing spaces if people within the community are demanding them, this law is not being upheld in a lot of cases.
Where sites are available, the long-term security of the gardens is not always guaranteed. A number of sites have been lost when developers have moved in to build houses on the land instead of growing vegetables and keeping an integral part of the community alive. Other locations may be at the mercy of private landlords who could choose at any time to evict the allotmenteers and sell the land or use it for other purposes.
As the huge demand for more places for growing fruit, flowers and vegetables only seems to be increasing, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Wales’ green fingered gardeners living in Carmarthen. Carmarthenshire county council has committed to finding land to generate into council owned allotment sites, which will expand the limited provision currently available to the Mid-Wales county.
A lack of available land has been blamed as one of the major problems councils experience when met with demands from residents to allocate more allotments to the community. Perhaps the answer lies outside the box, in more creative use of areas such as planters and beds in communal gardens and parks, or in initiative such as the Landshare scheme set up by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Whatever the answer, the more people growing their own, enjoying fresh homegrown vegetables and reducing food miles through their locally produced food, the better.