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Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 15 September 2010 17:18 UK
Big expansion planned for Sheffield allotments
Produce from allotments
More than 2,000 people are on the waiting list for allotments in Sheffield

'Digging for Victory' was the way the government got Britain to cope with austerity measures in World War II and it could be making a comeback in Sheffield in the hard times of 2010.

The city council has plans to create five new allotment sites in a pilot scheme to get local communities growing their own food.

There is a big demand for allotments in Sheffield with the number on the waiting list almost equal to the total number of plots in the city.

The council currently has 72 allotment sites in the city with slightly more than 3,000 plots but the overall waiting list for plots is now 2,300.

It also has plans to get tough with current allotment holders who are not maintaining their sites properly.

Five new sites could be developed by the council under the 'Community Food Growing' scheme.

These include plots at Ecclesfield Park, Lane End in Chapeltown, the Old Jessops Hospital site, Page Hall and parkland at Parson Cross - all of which are currently derelict or overgrown.

Community groups in the city like Grow Sheffield, Green City Action, Heeley City Farm and Sheffield Wildlife Trust have already said they are interested in managing and developing an area of land for food growing.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, the Council's Cabinet member for Communities said:

"Local people will benefit from this project by being able to grow their own food.

"We intend to give support and training to grow healthy food and provide additional food growing opportunities in the city that will link in to cook and eat sessions and other community food initiatives.

"Our work with partners can go a long way to breaking down some of the barriers to increasing physical activity, eating a healthier diet and reducing our carbon footprint."

Richard Clare from Sheffield Organic Food Initiative has a community allotment at Crookes and teaches others how to grow produce.

Richard Clare from Sheffield Organic Food Initiative
Richard Clare from Sheffield Organic Food Initiative

He has welcomed the council's initiative:

"It's music to my ears. We've been waiting a long time for the policy to change. We're looking for a long term commitment to food growing.

"On the back of inflation pushing up food prices, hopefully we'll build up the skills and capacity of people in Sheffield to support each other in food growing."

As well creating additional allotment sites, the council also intends to make more plots available by speeding up the process of re-allocating those which are vacant or not being cultivated.

At present an allotment-holder will be issued with a warning letter and given time to improve their plot.

Under the new regime anyone who has had two warning letters in a two-year period will have their plot taken off them.

Gail Griffiths, the Green Space Manager for Sheffield City Council, said they have to manage demand but they will support people who are struggling with their plot:

"There might be some extenuating circumstances where some people are unable to grow. We will certainly work with them.

"If they can't manage their plots any longer we can maybe halve their plot or find them a smaller area.

"But if they can't manage it and they acknowledge it they will have to move on and someone on the waiting list will take over."

Unscheduled spot checks will also be introduced to help identify poorly maintained plots.

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