Page 70 - ALG Issue 4 2019
P. 70

All counties of Wales
Heol y Gors Allotments Swansea
I hope everyone had a successful year on their allotments; we certainly did on our site at Heol y Gors allotments in Swansea. The weather, hard work, sharing knowledge on veg growing, and, of course, groups of plotholders drinking tea and putting the world to rights; it all goes to making our site, or for that matter any site, a successful one.
It sounds like the perfect allotment site; however, it hasn’t always been like that – I guess many of you have inherited overgrown plots and other problems!
I have had a plot there for going on 18 years now. I remember the first day
I walked through the gate to meet
the Council’s Allotments Officer who showed me several overgrown plots; I did think twice. Should I bother? I know from my work as the Wales Mentor that today many new plotholders think the same. What I saw was overgrown plots, rubbish stacked, tyres and trailers;
but this didn’t put me off. After a few years both myself and the late Graham Fletcher slowly addressed the issues that needed addressing; with the
help of several of the other gardeners we started to clean up the site. It’s a reasonably small site with only 25 full plots. It was obvious that many of the gardeners really had too much garden – as you know a full plot takes time and commitment. It was like walking on eggshells when approaching some of them just to enquire if they would like to give up some of their plots, but many did. It was a few years later that I talked to the Council asking if it would be possible to take some responsibility for running the allotments. Swansea Council certainly didn’t have a problem with this, and some of the other sites followed suit. Things progressed over the years and the Swansea Allotments Holders Group was formed working with the Council and Allotment Committees. I know today many sites are now self-managed and are thriving.
After many years of hard work at Heol y Gors, such as clearing the rubbish and splitting plots into halves or quarters, there is a small waiting list and 90% of the plots comply with the committee’s cultivation standards, which is excellent. When I was first allocated my plot, there were 25 allotment holders; today, after splitting plots and giving our gardeners a choice on how much land they need, provided it’s no more than one full plot, we have 39 active members.
Like many allotment gardens there
are problems to deal with, whether
you serve on the committees or as a plotholder – you only have to look at the DVD ‘Grow Your Own’. I have watched it several times; it’s witty, original, sweet and juicy. Don’t take my word for it, have a look, just google it and it will point you in the right direction. I really recommend it.
Getting back to problems and our allotment site: several years ago, a spring developed at the top of the site and after heavy rain (something Swansea is famous for), the water would run down through the site, flooding several plots. As the site was becoming more and more successful
By now we have solved the flooding of several plots, but what to do with all the water once it’s reached the bottom? Thinking caps on!
and popular, this became a problem and something that needed sorting.
Not easy you say, and you would be correct, so this is what we decided to do. I was Chair at the time and asked the Council for some money to buy
200 metres of flexible 4-inch pipe. We found the source of the water, and a
few of us dug a trench from the top of the site to the bottom. By now we have solved the flooding of several plots, but what to do with all the water once it’s reached the bottom? Thinking caps on! Then Paul came up with a brilliant idea: “Let’s make a pond.” And that’s what we did. After several years we’d solved the problem; it created a habitat for newts, frogs and of course the amazing carp and goldfish who live there. I have put a picture for you to make your own minds up. Paul, by the way, is now known as Paul the Pond after his hard work. Our committee has a Safety Officer who advises on matters and has made a risk assessment of the pond.
So, from the days of overgrown plots, rubbish piled high, flooding etc., we have come a long way. Heol y Gors has won best-kept allotment several times in the yearly competitions run by the Council and did so again this
            70 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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