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Allotment project bears fruit in lockdown


                     Press Release

Ref:PRSH293                                                                          Date: 10thAugust 2020

Allotment project bears fruit in lockdown

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A project to transform areas of land blighted by fly tipping and anti-social behaviour into community allotments has been hailed a growing success during lockdown.

The allotments are on land owned by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH)  which is part of Housing Plus Group  Since 2015 SARH has worked with Stafford Borough Council to help customers, community groups, people from local businesses and residents to create award-winning community allotments on unused waste ground.

With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealing that they have been growing their own vegetables with the enthusiastic help of their children, SARH marked  National Allotments Week 2020 with news that demand for the plots has blossomed in the pandemic. The association reports a surge in enquiries and growing waiting lists, with  socially-distant sign-ups helping residents put down roots in their new allotments straight away.

"We have seen a significant increase in interest in our allotments during lockdown," said Gavin McAlister, community engagement advisor at Stafford and Rural Homes.  

"Gardeners tell us that getting outdoors has been even more important in the past few months, producing benefits not only to their physical health but their sense of wellbeing.

And while we have all been spending more time at home this year, many of us have tried growing our own fruit and vegetables - whether that's a few plants in the garden or like our allotment holders, something on a bigger scale," he added.

SARH customers Tracey Rock and her son Jake were among the first plot holders at the allotments in Stone. The green-fingered pair spend around eight hours a week in what Tracey says has been a "safe haven" during lockdown.

"In a year when everything changed, the allotment has been our constant," she said. "You can shut the gate, listen to the birds and feel that everything will be OK. It's so beautiful and such a transformation when you remember how the land used to look."

Tracey and Jake have busy been growing beans, peas, leeks, cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts on their plot. The closure of the garden centres in the Spring meant that they experimented with growing from seed instead of buying young plants this year and they have been surprised by the amount of vegetables they have grown as a result. "You're never hungry when you've got an allotment!" laughs Tracey.

A multiple winner of SARH's Young Gardener of the Year title, Jake has learning difficulties and Tracey says that their relationship changes when they are in the allotment.

"At home, I'm Jake's main carer but when we're gardening together, he looks after me.

I've got arthritis and can't manage the heavy work so Jake makes sure that he does all the digging and the jobs that he knows I would struggle with. He's learned so much about plants and he's so confident. When we're in the allotment we're just Tracey and Jake."

Sarah Boden is chief executive of Housing Plus Group, whose members include South Staffordshire Housing Association, Severnside Housing, SARH, Care Plus and Severn Homes. She said that she was pleased to see the increased demand for plots in the allotments:

"As a not for profit Group, it's our mission to make a positive difference to homes, lives and communities and this is a great example of a project that supports communities to bring about positive changes in local neighbourhoods.

"I am delighted to say that our plans for a landmark development in Perton will include new allotments. As a Top Fifty housing association developer, this is the first time that we will provide allotments as an important part of a new housing development and in years to come I hope that more of our customers will be able to follow the lead of Tracey and Jake in growing their own fresh food."


Gavin McAlister, left, with gardeners Jake and Tracey Rock.


Background for editors

National Allotments Week 2020

National Allotments Week takes place between 10-16 August 2020. Organised by the National Allotment Society, the special week aims to raise awareness of allotments and to celebrate the important role that they play in local communities.

Stafford and Rural Homes

Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) is a social landlord with around 6,000 homes across Stafford, Stone and the rural villages across the Borough. The association works closely with resident and partners and to support customers and communities. 

SARH is registered as a Charitable Community Benefit Society and is part of Housing Plus Group, a leading provider of quality, affordable homes and care services that customers can trust across Shropshire and Staffordshire.  Housing Plus Group members also include South Staffordshire Housing Association, Severnside Housing, Care Plus and Severn Homes. 

Housing Plus Group is addressing the housing crisis by starting to build 2,000 new homes for rent, shared ownership and outright sale by 2023. The Group has pledged to deliver one-third more hours of care and support for older people in their own homes and to create apprenticeship opportunities for 100 people in the Group and its supply chain within five years.

Its members are inspired by the CLARITY values which are the foundations of its work: Communication, Learning, Accountable, Respectful, Inclusive, Trust and YOU.

Further information

Mara Hargreaves

Head of marketing and communications 
m:07800 619 863

Clare Chick
Marketing and communications officer
m: 07950 254 279

Martin Farrow
CHANGEWORKS Communications
t: + 44 (0) 1785 247588
m: +44 (0)7771 970025