As an allotment holder for many years, I was delighted to see the unanimous approval of the Council’s new allotment strategy at last week’s Environment, Sustainability and Transport Committee Meeting.
The strategy is testament to the hard work of council officers, the Allotment Federation, led by Alan Phillips, alongside the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership. Not so long ago, the process looked to be in jeopardy. I and my Labour colleagues on the Council are glad we have all been able to work together to produce an overarching vision for the decade ahead.
The strategy we agreed recognises the wider benefits allotments bring to our city. Allotments can play a proactive role in promoting good mental health locally. 92% of plot holders who responded to the Council’s consultation agreed that having an allotment could support mental wellbeing. I am delighted this has been recognised and hope it is taken on board by our partner organisations in the health sector locally.
Biodiversity is also key. Earlier on in the consultation process there was talk of an arbitrary reduction in plot sizes. This would have greatly reduced the variety of crops that can be cultivated on an allotment so I am glad flexibility has been maintained.
With just under 3,100 plot holders across the city, allotments remain incredibly popular locally and the current waiting list stands at just over 1,000. The strategy also rightly calls for greater guidance to new plot holders to help them on their way – I myself recall how demanding those first months are as you try and work out what you want to do with your plot.
Allotments contribute so much to our city, both in terms of sustainability and growing food locally, but also to the wider well-being of the city. I hope that in the years ahead, many more residents locally can experience first hand all the benefits being an allotment holder can bring.
Cllr Alan Robins is a Labour Co-operative councillor for South Portslade.