THE public’s love affair with allotments was given a boost today (Tuesday) by a pioneering initiative led by Roxburghe Estates and the Kelso Allotment Society.
Two acres of land on part of Floors Home Farm field in Kelso have been turned into around 60 coveted plots for gardening enthusiasts in the local community.
The Duke of Roxburghe formally opened the allotments today with the endorsement of Scottish Government and David Thomson, Head of Food, Drink & Rural Communities Division of the Scottish Government attended the opening ceremony.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse endorsed the scheme, commenting:
“Through my travels across Scotland I’ve heard from many people about their eagerness to grow their own food most recently when attending Gardening Scotland last week. It’s a great way of taking physical exercise, socialising with others and reconnecting us with where our food comes from and I have met veterans who stressed the value of allotments to their efforts to recover from combat stress.
“The Scottish Government is committed to helping people to grow their own food and it’s great to see new ventures such as this where, thanks to the efforts of the Roxburghe Estates and the Kelso Allotments Society, we’ve got new allotments for the benefit of the community.”
The Duke of Roxburghe said: "We are delighted to be able to assist the community in the provision of allotments for Kelso. There is clearly a real appetite for allotment space in communities and we are pleased that the Borders is at the forefront of the resurgence of interest in gardening plots.
“We were initially approached by the Provost three years ago and a power of work has gone into the project since then, including the erection of a new storage building, fencing and parking and paths, much of which was carried out by the Allotment Society in collaboration with the estate.”
Funding was also provided through the Roxburgh Communities Grant Scheme and a local charity, Charity Begins at Home. A previous shortage of allotment space in Kelso makes today’s unveiling even more special.
One local who has been lucky enough to secure a plot is Jimmy Fleming. He said:
“I’ve been waiting for an allotment for as long as I can remember and I know that in major cities across Scotland the waiting lists are full up ten or twenty years in advance. Kelso was crying out for this and people are very keen to gain all of the benefits that come from allotments. Those don’t just involve having some vegetables of your own but a year-round hobby that keeps you occupied, can be social, brings out your creative side and the feeling you have really achieved something wholesome that is yours alone”.
Roxburghe Estates has fenced off and leased the two acres, part of the field known as Cauldriggs on the edge of Kelso, to the society for 10 years. There will also be special plots allocated to children and young people to encourage them into the world of horticulture.
The Duke continued:
"With the increasing interest in grow-your-own and a strong demand for allotments for residents, the Estate was very keen to try to help when we became aware of the lack of any suitable land within the town itself. The Estate’s farm manager considers the land to be one of the best fields on Floors Home Farm with productive, deep soil, so it should provide good growing conditions for allotment holders."
The news was welcomed by Scottish Land & Estates who recently contributed to a practical guide for landowners looking to create allotments for their local communities. The organisation’s Director of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Sarah-Jane Laing said:
“Private landowners have an excellent track record for providing land for allotments, but a practical written guide was recently launched to make the process easier in light of the current public demand for community growing spaces. It is hugely encouraging to see Roxburghe Estates put the guide advice into practice and open up space for communities where it will be much appreciated”.