GREEN-FINGERED villagers are digging into a new community project to provide a lasting legacy of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Stobswood Allotment Association was formed earlier this year to try to find a suitable site for new plots.
It wasn’t long before the group identified the perfect piece of land, stretching more than three acres near the railway line on the edge of the village, and after negotiations with landowner UK Coal a lease was agreed.
Now work is finally under way to develop around 35 plots, as well as community schemes, and create the Stobswood Diamond Jubilee Allotments in honour of the Queen’s 60-year reign.
Stobswood Allotment Association Chairman Jacek Juszczyk said: “There were several people in the village of Stobswood who thought it would be good if we created new allotments. We searched around and the only spare bit of land that we knew of was owned by UK Coal so we got together and formed an association to try to get the rental of the land. UK Coal has now agreed a ten-year lease, which we hope we can renew.
“We wanted to use this project to mark the Jubilee because we wanted something that would become a permanent marker rather than a party that has been and gone. This will last at least ten years while we have the lease and hopefully a lot longer.
“More and more people are enthusiastic about growing their own food and there are some people who have small gardens and want a bigger one. At the moment allotments seem to be very popular, not just here but everywhere. Most allotments have got waiting lists and hopefully we will be in the same situation.”
The group has already found tenants for about 25 of the plots and money from subscriptions will cover the rent, but there is a need to find around £6,000 of funding to set up the sites with fencing and gates. It is hoped that Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council will provide a grant towards the cost.
As well as accommodating paying tenants, the association is looking to give half-plots to Grange View First School and the local youth group, and there are plans for a wildlife garden.
Mr Juszczyk said: “One of the plots floods a bit so we are going to turn that into a bog garden to encourage wildlife. Some of the members are keen to put up bird and bat boxes and we want it to be a natural nature reserve. These are ideas that are coming out from members. We would also like to set up a little classroom and a library for our members, but there is an awful lot of work to be done before we can get to that.
“The site used to be miners’ cottages so it is full of bricks and coal. It is hard work clearing it, but once we get going it will be ok.”
At 270 square metres, the plots are larger than standard allotments, and the association is keen to preserve the rural character of the site.
“We are very aware of the surroundings and we don’t want the allotments to look like a ghetto or a prison,” said Mr Juszczyk.
“We are not going to allow anybody to put up old doors or things like that. We have a constitution that has been adopted by the current members and a set of rules that we are going to abide by.
“The location is very rural, right on the outskirts of the village, next to a grass field. Today I was watching skylarks, curlews and lapwings and there is a barn owl on the edge of the field. It is a lovely rural place and we want to keep it that way.”
The association has about ten plots left, which are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For more details contact Mr Juszczyk on 01670 791104.