Monday, 6 July 2009

Not all allotments sites are havens

I am always amused when I read articles in the paper about allotments and how they are supposed to be a little haven, idyllic places of therapy and neighbourliness. You occasionally read about the occasional fire or break in caused by external bodies, but never a negative word about what really goes on inside some of the plot sites. But this is so far from the truth. For example, take the allotment site where I am: There is not much love between any of the plot holders. There have been attempts to gather volunteers once a week for communal work, and even then the committee which is really made up of three individuals: the president, the secretary and the treasurer always pick on the same people to do it. It is a thankless task.

When fruit and vegetables grow people who no longer have plots there, (but still have friends or keys to the gate) come in and help them selves. Then there are those that only use their plot as an extension of their backyard, don’t grow their own fruit or vegetables, but will steal other peoples crops. Then you have the committee who are just as bad, they will occasionally trespass and harvest other peoples crops. Then there are the experienced thieves who steal not just the growing fruit and vegetables, but everything and anything if it is not nailed down, as I and a number of others have experienced on numerous occasions. Complaining to the committee has resulted in a shrug, afterall what are they going to do, some of them are setting a 'certain' precedence for others to follow.

If a fellow plot holder dies or has to leave for ill health or personal reasons, the committee, namely the President and the Treasurer will pillage that persons plot, not just of items in the huts, but plants growing in the ground. The treasurers plot I made up of items ‘taken’ from other peoples plots, not just spades, trowels, canes and pots, but berry fruit bushes, pots of flowers and even paving slabs. I witnessed this disgusting behaviour when I was given plot 45 and she and the so called president was taking everything from it. I challenged her and let her know it was appauling. Since then we have disliked each other immensely, me disliking her for this unsavoury behaviour, her dislike for me knowing what she is like. She will often give new plot holders some of this stuff as if it has come out of her own pocket, as if she is doing them a favour, as a goodwill gesture. But little do they know that she has stolen it from others, some of whom are dead. The new plot holders are sadly in the belief that she is a wonderful samaritan. Sadly D and me fell for this tactic when we got our first plot, as she was offering us this, that and the other and a fellow plot holder (ex committee member) raised his eyebrows as he knew what we now know about her.

At properly managed allotment sites, when a plot holder leaves or dies, the new plot holder inherits what was left on the plot, as a gift from the previous occupier, not here. The greedy president and treasurer get it. I am convinced it is the only reason some of them joined the committee, to have licence to 'walk freely' on peoples plot as well as take things from there, not to manage or challenge inappropriate behaviour.

Onto another matter, there are two plots on the allotment site that have been deemed problematic by the committee. I cannot disagree with them here. These two plots are surely an eyesore. The committee has been afraid to evict these two individuals because they have apparently verbally threatened to use their machetes and burn down their huts should anyone touch their plots. So basically they have been untouchable for years, as the committee has been afraid to challenge them. But why are the committee then not involving the police? Perhaps there is something else underlying in this matter. On one of these plots, the family had begun to construct a permanent building, now anyone who has an allotment plot is aware that you are not permitted to build a ‘permanent structure’, but here construction has started. The rumours are because this family deals in weed and had plans to grow some here.

I’ve seen the treasurer smoking and swaying on her hammock for relaxation, then griping and groaning at the African-Scot kids playing football in the path, but never when the white-Scot kids play and scream. Subtle racism, perhaps or maybe they are easier to pick on which is something else the committee are good at.

I like dogs, I really do, but what I don't like are their irresponsible owners who let their dogs poop anywhere and then don’t clean it up. Actually this is a U.K wide problem, streets are covered with dog poop, but you don’t expect an allotment site to have that problem, not where people grow food and kids run around playing. There is also the issue of health and safety with lots of rubbish including smashed glass and sharp metal objects being dumped here there and everywhere.

I think I am a gregarious person, I don’t mind people enjoying themselves, having a get together with their friends and family now and again, but what I do dislike is when music is turned up and it becomes rowdy high energy party site, not an allotment plot. And then people behave irresponsibly, throwing their litter empty cans and bottles any old where, none of this recycling awareness. Even the residents nearby have complained of the late nights/early hours drunken behaviour of some of the plot holders. But I think they need to complain louder, perhaps to the Police. Seriously, as the long term committee will not take action, what do they care?!

Here you will also find some of the most foul mouthed plot holders who use f@$k or c**£ in every sentence. This may have been acceptable when the allotment site was predominantly a male domain, but times have changes, such places are now supposed to be family friendly.

Some of you may remember, I mentioned that these young women were being harassed in the evening by this 'jack the lad' sometimes drunk. One of the women had mentioned it to me out of their disgust at this mans behaviour and concern that I may have been experiencing it too. Well I have just learned that these women gave up their plot about a month ago. I am not saying that this is the reason they left, but it may have contributed to it. I am disappointed that they left without mentioning anything to the committee as advised by my good self. So this behaviour is possibly continuing.

Most of the time I stand back and observe in disgust these 'going ons', but other times I am a little amused at the new plot holders reactions wondering what they have got themselves into, as I did. They thought like me that they were coming into a little haven, no welcome to the dark side of some allotment sites.

Maybe these problems occur because it is a private allotment site, maybe not, but either way - you don’t read or hear about this kind of stuff in the papers.


  1. Gosh - I really feel for you with all these goings on - it sounds more like a piece of waste ground than an allotment. It is always a difficult balance between community facility and serious growing, but this sounds like it might have tipped too far.

    We put a Wendy House on our plot, and didn't lock it at first (thinking there was nothing in there to nick). When we came back to it a few days later, there were a few rolled up cigarette/joint butts. On the one hand I didn't mind, but I didn't really like the idea of what might go on in there, as we found hypodermic needles in our neighbours garden once. In the end we got a tiny, little padlock, and it has never been a problem since.

    I suppose it is a sign of the times really.

  2. Thanks.

    Sorry to hear about the exploits at the Wendy house, a place that should be about childhood activities, not joint butts.

    I sometimes feel like I am being a moany minnie and should just ignore it, keep my head down and mind my own business. But the truth is this is wrong and I cannot. I wish the concil took the allotment over, but lets be realistic, it is not going to happen.

    I would give up my plot, but the truth is I have worked hard and invested a lot in it, so I am not giving it up that easily, unless I move from the area to a house (that has a big back garden). Until then I will try and focus my energy on growing my fruit and vegetables, but as you can appreciate it is not easy with these going ons all the time. Not knowing whether theres been another break in, or if your homegrown veg has been 'picked' by someone other than yourself, and knowing that the culprit is on site and you cannot do anything about it. It is quite upsetting sometimes.

  3. Sorry about all the inconsiderate people you have to deal with. I think if things get out of hand with noise and rowdiness, I would call the police.

  4. If I have something stolen or a break in again, I will be calling the police.

  5. I've never experienced a community garden or allotment, but would never have imagined this sort of thing going on in them. Especially by the other gardeners! No, they're not gardeners - they're vandals. Gardens should be places of peace and nurturing, not violence and ugliness. I hope the arson you suffered, heartbreaking and awful as it was, ends up being a blessing in disguise and you find a much better place where you can enjoy growing your beloved plants while surrounded by pleasant, gracious, like-minded gardeners!


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