Bowbrook Allotments prepare to open
PUBLISHED: 11:06 27 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:36 20 February 2013
A grazing filed for cows in Shrewsbury has been painstakingly transformed into community allotments, where 100 members of all ages are enjoying nurturing flowers and friendships in equal measure
There is something very special about the Bowbrook Allotments in the heart of Shrewsbury.
Three years ago the land now carefully divided into 68 lovingly tended plots was a council-owned field providing grazing for a handful of cows.
But one local resident spotted its potential as a focal point for community life, gathered support from neighbours, and within months the idea of transforming the plot into allotments became a reality.
Allotment committee member Malcolm Mollart says it was a back-breaking but rewarding few months, leading to the grand opening in May 2009. A committee of allotment-holders was formed, and all plot holders and their families were invited to become members.
Each member is allocated one of 68 half-size allotments, where fruit, vegetables and flowers are grown, just as at traditional allotments around the county.
But at Bowbrook members and their families are also encouraged to volunteer to help tend shared green spaces around the allotments; regular work days are held to get everyone to dig in together; and everyone is keen to do their bit for the benefit of all.
It is a genuine demonstration of the all in it together culture.
Together the members have created a peaceful oasis, where friendships have blossomed and where advice and cups of tea are freely shared.
The allotment committees mission statement sums up the ethos of the site: We aim to provide an attractive, friendly and safe environment for members and their children, to grow and harvest fruit and vegetables in harmony with the wildlife that surrounds us. We shall endeavour to develop our green areas into orchards, meadows and rest areas and to encourage the use of organic practices and the recycling of green waste.
Their efforts so far have not gone unheralded. Last year Britain in Bloom judges awarded the allotments a Level 4 thriving award in the Its My Neighbourhood category and commended the terrific amount of progress made in such a short time.
It has a long waiting list - more than 40 people are currently hoping for a space. Said Malcolm: It is rare for people to give up their allotments but it can happen. It is a big time commitment - several hours a week - and some people realise they just cant keep it up.
Regular picnics, barbecues and family events are held at the allotments to reinforce the community ethos at its heart. Last summer a scarecrow competition drew lots of wonderful entries. The allotments now has its own website at www.bowbrookallotments.co.uk and produces a regular newsletter. One plot-holder, Jill, of Plot 45, who joined the allotments last year, tells the story of her plots development on the site, and pays tribute to her fellow allotment holders thus: Everyone I accosted was very helpful and many offered us both advice and plants to try, and recipes to deal with the excess veg; carrot and orange soup has become a firm favourite! So a very big thank you; it is a delight to come to our allotment. I am also impressed by the hard work done by so many on the surrounding orchards, shared areas and wildlife areas - their passion shows through.
Visitors to the plots are struck by the community vibe - children are especially welcome, with many of them having their own growing patch within their parents or grandparents plot..
Says Malcolm: It is lovely to see the children learning about where their food comes from and how it grows. The produce tastes fantastic too.
Local community groups, including a local church group and Shropshire Organic Gardeners, visit the site and a pre-school group, Little Explorers, visit regularly.
The scheme also has two orchards, a picnic area with barbeque, meadows, a herb border, gardens planned to attract wildlife and Gardens of the Four Seasons. Theres also a child-friendly willow dome, a willow tunnel, a turf spiral and a sensory border. A withy bed, hazel coppice and a birch grove are under development.
The scheme also has insect hotels, insect shelters and different types of bird and bat boxes.
NAME OF GARDEN: Bowbrook Allotment Community, Mytton Oak Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 5BT.
www.bowbrookallotments.co.uk or call Malcolm Mollart, tel: 01743 791743
OPEN DAY: Sunday 17th July. Teas will be served; an interest trail has been created; and theres a childrens quiz.
Favourites plants/flowers in the garden:
Buddleias have become the feature plant around the site. They form the basis of borders planted to attract wildlife, especially butterflies, bees and beneficial insects.
Gardening tip/tips from the owners:
Plan your planting to attract beneficial insects, both predators and pollinators. They will be your garden allies.