Would Thornbury Benefit From A Garden Share Scheme?

Profile image for jmitchell27

By jmitchell27 | Tuesday, May 04, 2010, 16:17

I recently read about a scheme in Brighton & Hove that encourages residents to share their gardens with others who would like to grow their own food, but who are unable to.

Do local people think it would be a good idea to organise a similar scheme in Thornbury? I'm aware that there is a waiting list for people who wish to have a plot on the Daggs Allotments (Sustainable Thornbury claim that roughly 50 people are on this list), so there would probably be adequate demand for an initiative like this. 

The group 'Grow Your Neighbours Own' state that: "We want to help form lasting (gardening) relationships between people, preferably people who live near each other – the garden/land owner and gardener arrange between them what they will grow and how often the gardening will take place, and share the produce as it is harvested!"

Sustainable Thornbury are already lobbying for more allotments in the area as a part of their Extra Allotments for Thornbury (EAT) Campaign, but I think they would welcome ideas like garden sharing (which are somewhat reminiscent of the new Totally-Locally group).

For more information you can visit the Grow Your Neighbours Own and Sustainable Thornbury websites.



  • Profile image for mwingereza

    It could be a workable idea, if nurtured properly, taking into account the essential character of the town, its people, economy and culture. There are worthy initiatives which succeed elsewhere, but don’t take root in Thornbury. One of those was actually an early suggestion of Sustainable Thornbury - a local credit union. Credit Unions tend to flourish in inner cities, and the proposal for one in Thornbury was quietly dropped, I believe.

    I think the ideal target, for gardens included in this proposal, would be those of the elderly, or others who have difficulty maintaining their own gardens. However, there are important issues, which result from this scheme, that also need to be addressed, including: access/security, proportion of garden used, crops grown, use of garden implements, benefit for owner, duration of the agreement. Although there is nothing to stop a (supposedly) landless gardener and a garden owner from making their own agreement, if it becomes part of a local project, then there should be guidelines drawn up.

    These issues relate to how often the gardener can tend the garden, whether the owner needs to be there at the time, and whether the gardener should have a key, if there is a locked gate. Also usage of a shed needs to be agreed. The gardener should have access to water.

    Proportion of garden used
    Not every owner may want the entire plot converted into a vegetable garden, and it might be part of an arrangement that the gardener also maintains a flower-lined lawn, in return for growing vegetables in the rest of the garden.   

    Crops grown
    The owner should be able to prohibit some crops. For example, owners should not have fruit trees imposed on them, unless they really want an orchard in their back garden. An owner may be relaxed about low plants like cabbages, but be unhappy about sunflowers towering up.

    Use of garden implements
    If gardeners bring their own garden tools, this may not be an issue, but if the owner’s tools are used, then paying for breakages is a potential area of conflict. An owner might be prepared to fund the replacement of items because of fair wear and tear, but not for negligence/misuse.

    Benefit for owner
    Some owners may be content with having their gardens brought back into use, or happy that part of the land is also maintained as a decorative garden. However it may be reasonable that the gardener freely give some vegetables to the owner. All these things need to be agreed beforehand.

    Duration of the agreement
    Thought need to be given to how the arrangement is brought to an end, because the owner or gardener could move away, the owner may decide some other usage of the garden, and so on. It could be reasonable that the gardener undertake some restoration work to return the garden to something like the earlier condition.

    Whilst all the above may seem unnecessarily formal, and most arrangements may be happy ones, I suspect that the scheme could lead to conflict or abuse. So it needs to be thought out properly.

    Eventually the ultimate decider will be actual demand. It is an irony that, around the country, the places with most allotments are ones where more people have gardens, and it is inner cities, where more people live in flats, that have relatively few allotment plots. I may be wrong, but I suspect that a lot of Thornbury allotmen

    By mwingereza at 13:00 on 06/05/10

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