Allotments and Environment
The allotments may not be an environmentally easy place for the disabled but we have never shirked away from welcoming all, and recognise the special needs of some. We have in the past, widened paths for wheelchair access, moved plots to enable families with disabled members to work together. We would like to work with bodies such as the Scouts to create more spaces for all to enjoy.
The 2006 London Assembly paper: 'A Lot to Lose: London’s Disappearing Allotments' identified 6 Community Benefits of Allotments, which we share:
Social - ‘The social benefits of an allotment need not be restricted to those who work the plots’.
Health - ‘The impact of activity in the great outdoors, or green exercise, on physical and mental health is of increasing interest to medical professionals'.
Environment -‘People are more and more concerned about environmental impact of what they eat – and justifiably so'.
Financial - The original purpose of allotments, encapsulated in the General Enclosure Act 1845, was to provide a source of fresh fruit and vegetables for the ‘landless poor’. Even now, the financial advantages of allotment gardening remain significant.
Community – ‘The benefits of the allotment site do not stop at the site gates.’ Diversity – ‘Far from the popular image of allotments as dominated by working class white males, often retired, London’s allotments are a case study in diversity'.
The report conclusions on allotment benefits states: ‘The case for maintaining, promoting and protecting allotments is a strong one, on public health and environmental grounds as well as a means of enhancing community cohesion. Any policy decision on the future of allotments must have full regard to the very considerable benefits they bring to the individual and the wider community'.
When coupled with the century plus of history, the use of this jewel within the island community is more than evident. It has served as a basket and garden for the Islanders over the last 100 years.
Many Islanders who worked the land have had their ashes spread onto their plots and there is a memorial noting the names of plot holders who served in the war. The site of the lower plots was the church gardens up until the Second World War and was secured through the efforts of our past MP Dr Ian Mikardo and Lord Simon. The Upper Allotments were the first project to be granted under the LDDC when the PLA sold the Mudchute to LBTH.
There are many records showing the relationship between the borough and the allotments and
include early photos from 1908 of a visit by the Mayor and dignitaries from Popular to the site. In the LBTH there is a record book of the Borough management of the allotments between 1945 and 1965 which details every meeting, attendees, plot allocations, finances and much more. Even the current Mayor, John Biggs has worked on the Lower Allotments and is familiar with the land.