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Heritage Open Days in conjunction with The National Trust.
Victory Garden Allotments – Heritage Open Days 21st & 22nd September 2019

Heritage Open Days is an annual national event whereby older and public buildings and places not normally open to the public, open their doors to the public to see inside.

This year is Victory Garden Allotments centenary year. The allotments were donated in perpetuity by Sir Arthur Godwin the then Lord Mayor of Bradford on the 20th September 1919 for use as allotments by the peoples of Rawdon. Rawdon is a village to the North West of Leeds in West Yorkshire, UK. Our Allotment Site is not normally open to the public.


PlaqueDuring the decline of allotment use in the 1950’s half the site was changed into a sports field for the local school after seeking permission from a distant relative of Sir Arthur and remained as such until the school closed in 2002.

There then ensued a five year campaign to reinstate the field back to allotments to cater for the then 65 people on the waiting list. It was a long and arduous battle as a government funded charity opposed our proposals strongly. However our determination and recruitment of support from high places managed to acquire half the field back again. Unfortunately the sports charity retained the other half of the field claiming it was to be an all-weather football pitch however it still remains a field as the incline of the land is totally unsuitable.

The grass was cut short and the Council erected a fence around the new area and the new plots were marked out and plot-holders signed up.

New plots 2009We issued an advisory start up sheet for the newcomers to start up small beds and expand them later. A number of plot-holders hired a turf cutter cleared four small beds and made a turf stack with the turf.

This proved an excellent way forward as it gave instant beds to dig and cultivate almost immediately. The whole extension was up and running within 12 months.

The whole site is developing into an extremely well run site with a really friendly community Spirit.

There are many young families occupying plots on site now and smaller more manageable plots are being offered to fit in with their busy lifestyles, with the young children about it is making for a much livelier site.

The site has two 2 hour work parties a month, one during the week and the other at a weekend, to make it accessible for all. We have made great improvements to the buildings and site over the last few years utilising the skills of plot-holders.

We have Easter Egg Hunts for the children; BBQ’s for the adults, allotment competitions, scarecrow competitions and are planning an apple press day for next year.

Heritage Open Days

History display in photographsThis year however with it being our centenary we opened up the site as part of the Heritage Week to the general public. We offered conducted tours around the site explaining about the running of the site and various interesting features. We had display boards with documents and photographs explaining the history of the site. There were some humorous short stories from and about previous plot-holders.

Tea, coffee, cakes and cold drinks were offered, with cakes, jam and surplus fruit and vegetables for sale.


The centenary cakesWe had many guests over the two open days and many spent the whole afternoon with us and said they had really enjoyed the comradery of plot-holders and the joviality at the whole event.  In addition we had two of the visitors asked to be added to the waiting list.

What was even more beneficial, it offered our existing members the opportunity to get to know other plot-holder that they wouldn’t normally see.

We rounded off the day by cutting the special centenary cake we had made to celebrate the centenary, it was delicious.

The Heritage Open Days were a huge success and will be repeated next year.

Phil Gomersall, Secretary.

Science prize 2019 of the German allotment federation

At the occasion of the central federation's day of the German allotment federation (BDG) in Dresden, Dirk Sielmann was not only elected as the new president, but the BDG's science prize was awarded too. With the aim of sensitizing young scientists to the topic of allotment gardens, four outstanding scientific studies were presented and awarded prizes. "All four studies deal with their respective topics in a methodically challenging way and on a high technical – scientific level and remain nevertheless in tune with actual practice and predominantly present well usable results" underlines jury chairman Helmut Kern.

from left to right: Peter Paschke, Agnieszka Schlegelmilch, Helmut Kern, Dirk Sielmann Photo: Christian HeldAgnieszka Schlegelmilch personally accepted the first prize for her master thesis submitted to the TU Berlin entitled "The cooling potential of allotment gardens during summer – case study of the "allotment garden colony Johannisberg" in Berlin. Schlegelmilch proved by means of a methodologically much differentiated field study that allotment gardens, like other green spaces in the city, have a significant potential for regulating the urban climate and can counteract the well-known phenomenon of urban heat islands in their immediate surroundings.

2nd prize: The study "Biodiversität der Wiener Kleingärten" (biodiversity of the Viennese allotment gardens) empirically proves that the abundance of species of flora in allotment gardens also has a positive influence on the abundance of species of fauna. The study was carried out by a team from AGES (Austrian agency for health and food security) under the direction of Dipl.-Ing. Anna Moyses

3rd prize: The work: "Kleingartenentwicklungskonzeption der Stadt Schwarzenberg/Erz" (Allotment garden development concept of the city Schwarzenberg/Erz), prepared by a team of students of the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, shows the importance of an analyses of the needs in regions with a declining population development. Allotment garden sites with high occupancy rates must be maintained. If demand is structurally too low, however, this also means that allotment sites must be closed.

4th prize: Valerie Milicevic, master thesis "Kleingartenverlagerung im Kontext der Entwicklung von Potenzialflächen im Siedlungszusammenhang" (Allotment garden relocation in the context of the development of potential areas in the settlement context) submitted at the TU Darmstadt, deals with a currently explosive topic in growing cities.

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show (the home of the giant vegetable championships)

gb1I was very limited in time for preparing for the show what with being at the Rotherham Show the previous weekend and preparing for our Heritage Open weekend the weekend after at Victory Garden Allotments as it is our centenary year this year.

What made matters even worse I had double booked on the Friday to do a promotion stand and workshops for the Yorkshire Local Councils Association, AGM in York.

The Show Director, Nick Smith had also asked if I could do three talks at the show, one of the regular talks I do with Martin Walker but also two one hour illustrated talks on my own "Allotment Gardening on a Shoestring". So with the aid of my trusty Mannequin 'George' I created a simple display to accompany the display table. Unfortunately even that was made more complicated as I had to do some rather major alterations to his bent arm so he could hold the wheelbarrow.

GB2All went well in York as I was accompanied by Liz Bunting, NAS Legal Advisor and Operations Manager I think our double act was well received.

This left me to work all Friday night until well after midnight to complete my power point presentation.

Up bright and early the following day. The talk's went very well and were much appreciated according to feedback. More individual members were recruited so all in all it was a successful weekend.

Thank you very much to Kay Heywood and Barry Bothamly for volunteering to man the stand whilst I was indisposed on the stage.


Rotherham Show

GB2What a lovely show which had its roots as a horticultural show. Now it is much wider than that with all sorts of attractions. There still remains a large marque however as a dedicated horticultural tent.

The Rotherham Alliance once again invited me to put up an NAS stand next to theirs which I duly agreed to. Mike Farrell from the Alliance once again got me and my wife an invitation to join the Civic party as a distinguished guest.

I put up the stand on the Friday. So on the Saturday I got all dolled up in my best jacket and my Presidential bling, so as not to feel out of place at the Civic party. My and what a civic party it was, I felt extremely honoured to be there, Lord Mayor and Lady Mayor of Sheffield, Mayor and Mayoress of Rotherham, Master Cutler (head of the company of Cutlers, acting as an ambassador of industry GB1in Sheffield) and his wife from Sheffield and many more guests all with chains of office. We had an escorted tour around this wonderful show which covers a whole park and is entirely free!! entry to the public.

Walking around the children's area I was really taken by what was called 'The Allotment' and was aimed at the younger children. It comprised of all types of fruit and veg, all with wobbly eyes added and when of appropriate size and shape dressed in nappies and with dummies and positioned in vintage prams, high chairs, cots and laid on cushions. There were feeding bottles so the children could pretend and cuddle and feed them. I was very taken with this idea as being an extremely novel way of introducing very young children to fruit and vegetables and bringing familiarisation.

The rest of the time on Saturday and Sunday was spent promoting our great organisation and answering queries.

This was yet another wonderful event, thank you Rotherham Alliance and Rotherham Council for a great time and a great show.


Small Gardens – great diversity. Image video of the BDG.

Allotments: an area of a manifold diversity and a greater environmental justice in our more and more dense cities.
Just watch the film.


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