Allotment Charges Hyperinflation

Like many councils around the country, Sheffield City Council is making substantial cuts. Whether you blame Tories, bankers, or previous councils (or some combination of the above), the council’s finances are in pretty dire shape, and all sorts of services are being hit.

One of the cuts in Sheffield is ending the subsidy to the allotment service. The council provides about 3000 plots around the city. In 2012/13, that cost them about £300k, and they recouped something like 30% of that in charges. The remaining 70% was subsidy. By 2014/15, they’re aiming to remove that.

Rather than cut the cost of providing the service, the council has decided to achieve this by increasing charges. We’ve just had the bill from our council for our allotment for the coming year. It’s just about double what it was last year, and it’ll go up by about the same amount again next year.

2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Charges Charges Increase from 2012/13 Charges Increase from 2012/13
Small £25.40 £50 97% £80 215%
Medium £37.90 £70 85% £112 196%
Large £52.60 £100 90% £160 204%

There’s been lots of grumbling from tenants, as you’d expect, and several people have said that they’ll give up their plots. Last time I checked, the waiting list on our site was down to four people, so there’s no eager crowd waiting to take over if we do lose tenants because of rent increases. Not long ago, our site was pretty much derelict, and there’s a real risk that the hard work that’s gone into bringing it back into use is now going to be undone.

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A little PSB, better than nothing

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Our first attempt at growing purple sprouting broccoli got me thinking it was easy. Despite hemming them in with romanesco plants planted far too close on either side, they grew to about 5ft tall, and produced a steady supply of tender shoots when not a lot else was ready on the plot. Continue reading

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Is it a polytunnel? Is it a cloche? No, it’s a tent…

Polytent (outside)

For the last year or so, in different places around our site, large plastic edifices have been appearing one-by-one. A month or so later, the owner appears with an almost-apologetic-but-ever-so-slightly-smug smile, carrying an unseasonal salad crop or a truss of pristine tomatoes. The age of the polytunnel is upon us.

Meanwhile, those without such luxuries look on with envy, knowing that unlike their plastic-coated neighbours they can’t cheat the seasons. So far, that’s included us. Now, though, I’ve decided to invest in covering one of our raised beds. Continue reading

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Parsnip Surprise

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We haven’t had much success with root vegetables. We’ve tried direct sowing. We’ve tried starting seeds off in toilet tube inners and then planting out. We just can’t seem to get them growing reliably. Continue reading

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Vegetable Traffic Jam

Cabbages

Recently, as sometimes happens, life has been getting in the way of allotmenting. Today I made it down to the plot for only the second time in a couple of months. Continue reading

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Spuds We Like (and others we’re not so sure about)

Charlotte

We grew a few different varieties of potato on the plot this year. Despite the wet weather, overall they did okay, although some were affected and we did have to harvest them a little early as they were starting to show signs of blight (the tomatoes later got wiped out). Continue reading

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Summer Fayre

Produce Box Entry

Today was our Allotment Association’s Summer Fayre, a chance for plot-holders to get together over a barbeque and a keg of beer and compare the fruits of their labours. Continue reading

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Strawberries Everywhere

Strawberries

It’s been a strange year so far, with cold, wet weather making it difficult to get anything going on the allotment. The slugs seem to be particularly active. One thing that doesn’t seem to have noticed, though, is the strawberries. We have a glut. Every few days, we come home with a kilo or so of strawberries. Continue reading

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Slug Wars

Slug Damage

After a slow start to the year, things are finally growing on the plot. The question is, who are they growing for? Continue reading

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A Broccoli Bouquet (not for Mothers’ Day)

A Broccoli Bouquet

I was brought up to ignore Mothers’ Day. I’m not sure of the precise reasoning, but I think that my feminist mother probably felt that society cynically chooses to spend one day patronising mothers so that it can spend the rest of the year marginalising them. Offering an annual bunch of daffodils as a substitute for equality is just demeaning, she might have argued. Continue reading

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