One discussion that rumbles on is allotment rents. Basically there are two camps; those who believe they should be subsidised and cheap versus those who believe they should be market value rents.
I’m firmly in the subsidised and cheap rents for allotments camp. There’s a number of reasons I believe that and one of them is the benefits allotments bring to the community at large. So it was nice to hear this about Newmarket Allotment Association.
The point is that this allotment association is looking to improve things for their members (without being a drain on the local council) and for society at large by providing an educational resource.
I’ve said in the past that the best way to reduce school holiday vandalism on allotments is to get the little
monsters tykes involved. Once they’ve developed an interest and a sense of ownership on a site, vandalism tends to vanish. They don’t vandalise their own nor do they allow the other kids to do so. At the same time, they’re learning a life skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Anyway, back to Newmarket Allotment Association. Their Field Terrace Road Branch has just had the official opening of a community centre situated in the middle of their allotment site. The new centre, which has been built solely by allotment holders on the site, is open to current and past plot holders and Association members.
It features a kitchen area for teas, coffee and a catch-up, plus a stunning outdoor area, complete with hanging baskets, lawn, barbeque area and seating. The inside space can be used on more inclement days and a small reference library, seed and plant swapping area and information area is planned
Steve Cakebread and Bill Todd have been instrumental in getting the centre up and running. They and others have spent several hours each day over the last five months sorting out materials and building the centre.
Steve comments: “We have worked hard on the centre and are delighted with our results. However, we could not have completed the project without donations from our local community, local businesses and other plot holders – and our thanks goes to them.
We very much want this to be a drop-in centre for the community on this site and more, so now we are working with several local schools to look at how we can enable them to take a suitable plot and help children learn more about how their food grows, take a little exercise and get really involved with growing their own vegetables. To make this happen, we do need to set up a toilet block, so this is our next project and we are planning to hold regular fund raising activities to help us on our way.”
Bill added: “Businesses which have kindly donated resources and materials include Crack On, Newmarket Motor Company, Waitrose, FHCD, P&B Flooring, Newmarket Paint Company and James Westley Construction.”
In order to involve the interested schools, a toilet block really is a necessity. To purchase, deliver and install a suitable toilet block the site is looking to raise £3,500. If any businesses or individuals would like to make a promise of donation, however small towards this project, they can contact Ray Shore, Allotment Secretary on 01842 815 083.