Breaking new ground on the community allotment

On Easter Saturday 2010 our community allotment got under way. Eight of us turned up for the initial meeting, to talk about both the practicalities and our aspirations. Some of us had never met before, so more than anything this first day was about making new friends. We quickly decided that all the areas on the allotment will be shared between us, and we talked about what we’d like to grow. Pat brought along some Jerusalem artichokes and tomato seeds, and Ruth offered some raspberry canes from her garden – so before we even arrived at the allotment site, the sharing had already begun.

We started dividing up some of the urgent jobs (such as getting a shed to hold our community tool bank), and we talked about how people want to participate. Some of us will help with the organising and getting supplies, others will garden on the allotment at whatever time suits them. Some people are able to visit the allotment during the week, and for the rest of us we might try to meet up regularly on weekends or during the summer evenings.

We’ve decided to aim for an organic allotment, and we’re lucky to have expert advice available from Rob, who used to be an organic farmer in Canada and now lives in Newsome. He’s one of several people who have offered to help that couldn’t be there for the first meeting, and we hope to catch up with everyone who is interested soon.

News to me was that the plot boundaries have been shifted around a bit since we picked up the keys, so as well as our wonderful wonky A-frame glasshouse, we have now inherited an old grape vine and its little abode. This is yet more broken glass to replace, and something else for us to learn. With my fondness for old bits of wood, I am of course delighted. Hands up who knows how to tend a grape vine…

Once we got to the site, we set about planting some potatoes that were left over from our Spring event, kindly bought for us by Information by Design (IbyD). I’ve since realised just how appropriate it is that the first things we planted on our community allotment were supplied by IbyD, who are the research company that helped us to run the ‘Grow your own food in Newsome’ survey that told us how much demand there is for allotments in Newsome. Steve Wisher, these potatoes are dedicated to you.

As usual, this particular Growing Newsome escapade was both fun and thought-provoking. I found out about the perils of couch grass, the difficulties of getting claggy soil off your wellies, and the vital importance of bits of string. I also discovered that I’m not the only person in Newsome who uses their underfloor heating to propagate seeds.

We all pitched in to establish the boundary of our allotment and to get three row of potatoes in. I think it’s fair to say that the soil was not very co-operative (Cherry aptly said it was what her mother would call “diggin’ pudden”), but we persevered.

It’s clear that we’ll need a lot of patience to turn this sticky patch of earth into something that we can all be proud of, and we’d really like to hear from you if you’d like to help – you can use the contact page on this site to get in touch.

The lost gardens of Newsome

You can find all sorts underneath a tangle of brambles, if you make a bit of effort to look.

On Saturday 20th February 2010 we found a whole garden underneath some brambles, and we’ve taken the first step towards reclaiming this lost garden so that it can be used for food growing.


The garden’s owner gradually lost the garden to the brambles which crept in steadily over the back fence and kept on going until they reached the house. Although she used to grow thriving flowers there, the task of sorting out the tangle eventually became too overwhelming for her to deal with. 

So she kindly offered her garden to Newsome Ward Community Forum, in the hopes that someone else can make good use of it to grow their own food. There is land like this all over Newsome – it’s a lost treasure waiting to be reclaimed.


Just looking at the bramble patch probably made this garden’s owner feel daunted – and we felt the same when we arrived there on a cold February morning. So we did the only thing we could… started at one end and carried on until we reached the fence at the far end.

It took two just hours for us to uncover the garden, reversing the journey that the brambles had made over the years.

Eleven of us turned up to work on the garden, including several members of Newsome Ward Timebanking.


We were also joined for a while by a group of environmental students from Leeds University who were on a field trip to look at sustainable living projects in Huddersfield.  We’d like to thank them for their interest in Growing Newsome, and for mucking in to help us round up the brambles.

Between us, we discovered a lot in a couple of hours.


What we found underneath the brambles was:

a garden, an odd plant pot or two, a collection of balls (in varying states of decay), a tree, some snowdrops and a robin. We also found that overwhelming tasks are not impossible if you have someone to help. We shared experiences about food growing. We talked about what we might do in the future. 

Under those brambles, we also found ideas, new friends and a bit of inspiration.


Please contact us if you’re interested in sharing your garden, if you’re looking for somewhere in Newsome to grow food, of if you’d like to take part in future activities.

Read Andrew’s blog about the day: Reasons to be cheerful…

Allotments funding bears fruit

In Newsome we’re already seeing the benefits of the £1 million investment that Kirklees Council are making to improve allotment sites across Kirklees.

Community allotment

The Ashenhurst Avenue site has now been cleared and prepared for use. New fencing has been put up around the site, the drainage has been improved, and there’s now a walkway through the middle of the site to improve access. Some final work is being done to further improve the drainage, then people on the waiting list for Ashenhurst will get their new plots.


We were delighted to pick up the keys to our new community allotment site there on Friday 5th February. It’s almost a year exactly since we started our Newsome food growing project, so this is a great way to celebrate.

At our events last year, many Newsome residents found out about allotments in the area for the first time, and we were able to get them onto the waiting list for the improved sites. It’s fantastic to now see those same people getting their plots and planning for the growing year ahead. Maybe you are one of those people? Please keep in touch and let us know how it’s going – you might even inspire someone else to give it a try.

Malvern Road allotments

Malvern Road allotments were also renovated last year, and some of our members are already preparing their plots. If you’d like an allotment but feel a bit daunted, why not follow Andrew and Graham’s example by getting a plot to share? You are also very welcome to come and use the community allotment at Ashenhurst – please get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

Contact us.

Community Garden – Occupation Road

herb planter

herb planter

There’s now a Community Garden on Occupation Road (off the top of Lockwood Scar, behind Towngate), which anyone who lives nearby is welcome to use. We’ve started things off by planting some Autumn / Winter vegetables and some hardy herbs. If you see anything growing there that you’d like to eat, please feel free to pick it. You can also add your own plants to the garden. Another large planter will be available soon.

 
beanseeds-smallMost of the plants came from Colne Valley Garden Centre. We’d like to say thank you to their staff for kindly donating some vegetable seeds to support the work of Growing Newsome.

Thank you also to David Browning, who donated some strawberry plants from his allotment, and to Mr Charlesworth who helped us with the watering.

 

This land was previously overgrown and unusable. Members of Newsome Ward Timebanking helped to turn the site into a community garden. Can you think of other places that we can work together to improve? If you know of any spare land in Newsome that could be used for growing food, please contact us.

Hart Street allotments – planning appeal dismissed

 

Hart Street allotments

Hart Street allotments

The planning appeal for building housing on Newsome Mill Ponds and the former Hart Street allotments has been refused. This is fantastic news for all the local campaigners who would like to see this valuable open space put back into productive use for the benefit of Newsome residents. 

 

 

The planning inspector said in his report:

 

“the loss of previously undeveloped open land resulting from the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area.”

 

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters in support of the Hart Street  site. Newsome Ward Community Forum’s work to try and secure this land for community use can now resume. We hope that one day there will be a thriving community allotment at Hart Street, right at the heart of Newsome.

 

In the meantime, watch out for those blackberries which are fast ripening on the site…

 

Hart Street planning appeal decision (pdf)

Stirley Farm consultation

farm buildings

farm buildings

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust plan to restore Stirley Farm and to provide a range of community-based services there.

 

Stirley Farm consists of a farmhouse, barns and outbuildings. It is situated just west of Castle Hill but its land stretches all the way over to Newsome, Almondbury and Honley.

 

 

barn

barn

In the past, the farm was used for dairy farming, but it has been vacant for a number of years and now it has become run down.

 

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with Kirklees Council and local residents (via Newsome Ward Community Forum) to develop plans to restore the farm and some of its surrounding land.

 

 

land

land

The idea is to get it up-and-running as a community farm and open it up to the public, offering a range of community-based, community-run facilities for the benefit of local residents.

 

The plans are not yet decided and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust would like to know your views on what you think is needed or what you would want to see put into the restoration of Stirley Farm.

 

To take part in the consultation, please visit:

http://www.consultkirklees.org/participate.html

 

(consultation closes at 9am on Thursday 27th August 2009)

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