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Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Kingston Lacy gets 46 new community allotment plots
Kingston Lacy house
The Kingston Lacy estate has been owned by the National Trust since 1982

The old kitchen garden at the National Trust's Kingston Lacy estate has been restored to create 46 new allotments.

Six plots have been built with the help of The Prince's Trust and will be used by less-abled people.

Forty new plots are also planned for 2011, for the use of local residents, school and community groups.

Plus, three trial allotments are being created next to the restaurant, and pigs are being bred as living weeders and rotavators.

The Kingston Lacy estate covers over 8,500 acres of land, and was home to the Bankes family from the 17th to the late 20th century.

The old kitchen garden comprises of six acres of land.

Head gardener, Andrew Hunt, said: "Historically, the old kitchen garden was the family's own back garden.

"It was very formal and they used it to grow a huge amount of vegetables, fruit and cut flowers.

"In its heyday they had 20 gardeners working on this area during the summer months, and 15 in the winter months."

Former glory

The old kitchen garden at Kingston Lacy
It is hoped that the allotments will have a 'lovely community feel' to them

The Kingston Lacy estate was bequeathed to the National Trust when Sir John Bankes died in 1981, and has been owned by the Trust since 1982.

Andrew said: "We think it's important for this area to be restored to its former glory, because it tells the story of this estate.

"Part of the National Trust's ethos is to 'go local' - so we'll be growing vegetables ourselves on the trial allotments, to serve in the onsite restaurant.

"These will mainly be quick growing vegetables such as lettuce, beetroot and carrots."

Of the 40 community allotments planned for 2011, 10 will be put aside for local schools, to fit in with their curriculum.

The Trust's aim, once all of these allotments are finished, will be to open up the old kitchen garden area to the public.

Andrew said: "Visitors will be able to learn tips from the allotment holders on how to grow vegetables.

"It should make for a lovely community feel here.

"Hopefully, they'll develop their own allotment association and run the site in a family way."

Pigs

Old brown spot pigs
The pigs are helping the Trust to 'manage the land' on the estate

Four Gloucester old spot female pigs, and two saddle back female pigs are currently onsite at Kingston Lacy in the formal gardens [the area currently open to the public].

There is also one male saddle back pig in the old kitchen garden.

Andrew said: "The saddle back pigs have been here just over 12 months now.

"One of the females will be bred with the male in the next couple of weeks, so we'll have little piglets roaming around in a few months time.

"We will breed from the Gloucester old spots later on in the season.

"We're using the pigs to help cultivate the soil for us - getting rid of all the brambles and nettles, and clearing it for planting later in the year.

"We aim to build up our numbers of pigs, so that they can be used right across the estate to help us manage the land - this is the work that often we haven't got time to do."

Head gardener, Andrew Hunt
Visitors will be shown 'how to grow, and then cook, from scratch'

All of the pigs that are bred with, will be sent to slaughter and the pork will be used in the restaurant alongside the vegetables and fruit, which are grown on the allotments.

Andrew said: "This is exactly what we do with our beef herd on the property, and follows the traditions of the Bankes family.

"We're also looking at getting some sheep in the garden later on this season, together with a couple of goats and possibly a couple of chickens."

Kingston Lacy is running four new gardening courses from April to July 2010.

These will take place on the first Monday of each month and will cover a range of subjects from ground preparation to harvesting.

Fifteen places are available and cost £10 each, per day.

In autumn 2010 a number of 'pick and cook' events have also been planned at Kingston Lacy.

Visitors will be invited to pick fruit and vegetables from the allotments and then watch them being cooked, with recipe cards to take away.




SEE ALSO
Pigs clear allotment ground
17 Mar 09 |  Bristol

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