Claims of 90-year wait for allotments in the Capital

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WOULD-BE allotment holders are said to be facing a 90 wait in parts of Edinburgh.

It was reported over the weekend that the clamour for grow-your-own veg means many councils have closed their waiting lists.

And in central Edinburgh gardeners may even have to bequeath their place to the children or grandchildren.

“It’s 90 years for some of the allotments in central Edinburgh and waiting lists have had to be closed in other cases,” said gardener and writer Kenneth Cox, speaking on the eve of National Gardening Week, starting today.

“Social media has certainly helped spread the word,” he said. “Young people have gardening videos on YouTube, which inspires others of a similar age.

“I toured with Alys Fowler, who presented on Gardener’s World and was much younger than your typical TV gardening show presenter. I watched as 19-year-old girls came up to her and said she was their hero - it was inspiring.

“Also, people see community projects, which are very visible, decide to join in and it takes off.”

Council chiefs have rubberstamped a new ten-year strategy aimed at improving access to allotments after a surge in demand for the Capital’s reserve. There are currently 1488 council-managed plots in Edinburgh, with a waiting list of 2510 people.

A strategy launched last year, Cultivating Communities: A Growing Success 2017 – 2027, also aims to investigate potential new sites and encourage people to develop and manage plots on council-owned land.

As well as investigating a list of potential new sites, the strategy also aims to ensure plots are accessible to all and to promote biodiversity on new sites.

Jenny Mollison, who is the secretary of the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS), a voluntary organisation that protects and promotes allotment sites and plot holders, said: “At the end of the First World War there were 77,000 plots in Scotland and 90,000 by the end of the Second World War,” she said.

“In 2007, SAGS counted the allotment plots and it was down to between 6000 and 7000, but it’s creeping back up and now we’re at 10,000.

“The implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act will make sure local authorities meet the demand for allotments by reacting to certain trigger points, which are still being ironed out.”

Jenny got her allotment in 1988 in Musselburgh, a few years after moving from Edinburgh city centre with her family. “I wouldn’t be without it,” she smiled. “I know it’s the place to go when the going gets tough - my family send me down there when I’m in a mood.

“It’s my bolthole, so I don’t share it with anyone else.

“There is something magnificent about putting the key in the gate - it’s like stepping into another world.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com