Against a background of increasing concern over the environmental and social impacts of modern food production, there is increasing interest in growing our own food, either at home or on a local allotment.
This is a not-for-profit social enterprise, based in Norwich, which runs the Grow-Our-Own (GO²) allotment project on Bluebell South allotments. The project has been extremely successful in bringing local people together to share land, tools, seeds and plants. They have 150 growers including people with disabilities, children and complete novices. Most people have mini plots of 1.2 x 6 metres, which are easy to manage, especially because all the necessary practical support is provided by the scheme. Sustainable travel to and from the allotment is actively promoted: bike stands are provided and just 5 car parking spaces for people with disabilities.
It is now hoped to expand the initiative and a suitable piece of land of 2.8 hectares has been identified in the in the Marlpit area of Norwich City, which is easily accessible from adjoining residential streets and cycle paths. The land is close to high density housing, suffering a degree of deprivation, and it is felt that an allotment project would be of benefit to the local community. Ideas for the new site include:
- Providing allotments to people living in Marlpit, Larkman, Earlham, and beyond.
- Planting trees for coppicing.
- Planting an area of orchard trees.
- Building a one-storey eco building for educational use, such as courses in growing, cooking and preserving food.
- Cycle parking (car parking is discouraged apart from Blue Badge spaces).
- Composting toilets (already used at Bluebell South).
- Rainwater storage and recycling, including creation of a wetland nature area.
- Solar PV.
The visual impact of the proposal will be critical because of the sensitive location in an area of high landscape value; close to an internationally protected Special Area of Conservation (the River Wensum). It is also in a flood risk zone.
The project is currently at the planning stage and indications for success are very positive. The Sustainable Living Initiative is supported in this new venture byIshmaelandscapes.
George Ishmael says: “This is just the type of sustainable, community-based project that Ishmaelandscapes wishes to promote and assist”. The existing meadow-land will remain open; access for local people will be greatly increased and, by ceasing the use of agricultural chemicals, the sites biodiversity will be returned to its former level.