Members of Knocknagael Ltd were given a great tour of Blackthorn Allotments by their secretary, Karen. The site is deceptively big, extending along an embankment to a lovely allotment dedicated to flower growing - a useful reminder that not everything needs to be edible!
Blackthorn started about 8 years ago and has a further 2 years left of their lease but are hopeful of negotiating an extension with the land owners. Their waiting list is over-subscribed so has been closed for the time being. Some raised beds are made available to people who are waiting for an allotment and one area has also been provided for local Brownies. Duke of Edinburgh Volunteers and others have been helping with fencing, maintenance and cultivation. Considering how stony and rough the ground was when first dug, it is amazing to witness how much has been done!
Some comments from those who took part:
"It was very good...very encouraging what can be achieved. Good management evident and Karen happy to share their experiences - the positives and the challenges."
"Pretty good...Lots of specific stuff, loads of bigger thoughts...well worthwhile."
"One of the things I was encouraged to hear is that they had been able to set up cabins for use relatively easily. I loved how colourful it looked and there seems to be a good collaborative atmosphere."
"Yes it was impressive and inspiring, lovely to see the end allotment full of flowers too...Not having mains water, sewerage or electricity were concerning. K Ltd's operations would be on a scale where these would be a necessity, although natural composting toilets would be an option. If we can collect rainwater and use solar/wind/compost heat generation with energy storage, that would help reduce site consumption but I still think it unlikely we could be completely self-sufficient...Interesting that Blackthorn has closed its waiting list - further evidence of allotment demand exceeding current capacity."