England's shortage of available allotment plots, and quite frankly ludicrous waiting lists, is now a well-documented problem. Although highlighting this issue has led some councils to open up disused building sites and launch garden adoption schemes, it seems that many local authorities, especially in London, have more pressing concerns.
After all, why invest a relatively small amount of money providing new allotment plots that will be tilled for 100 years when you can spend millions and millions of pounds on an Olympic venue that will be dismantled after its one month of use? Irony? Politics? Either way, a very real situation.
Since our elected representatives are struggling to support this campaign for urban gardening space, power is very much in the hands of the people – we've already seen the huge success of the Shoreditch housing estate and their makeshift community allotment. But perhaps there's also an opportunity for private business to get involved, which of course, comes no bigger than Tesco.
The iconic British supermarket / retail behemoth is now planning to offer customers Tesco allotment plots. You do read correctly dear readers – Tesco has applied for planning permission to create thirty allotment plots next to its Southport store in Lancashire. When it comes to getting more allotments created and opened in England, to quote Tesco's infamous mantra, 'Every Little Helps' – but does it? If we look at this issue more closely, as with gardening, there's a lot more going on under the surface.
250 miles away from Southport, in Hadleigh, Suffolk, Tesco is in fact battling to tarmac over a number of allotments in a natural beauty spot to pave the way for a proposed superstore. The 'Bridge Allotments' have been tilled for over fifty years and Tesco is now flexing every corporate muscle to eradicate these plots for its own gain. As Bridge Allotment plot holder Brian Dicks says, “It is complete hypocrisy for Tesco to pretend to be concerned about the need for allotments in Southport.” My thoughts exactly.
As a campaigner for urban gardening space, I'd normally welcome any sort of plot opening. As with all gardeners however, one of the things we crave is authenticity. Tesco may be waxing lyrical about addressing the shortage of allotment problems, but when examined more closely, this is purely a PR stunt. I'd advise gardeners nation-wide to boycott Tesco allotments and expose the truth that is going on behind the scenes, lending any support possible to our gardening friends in Hadleigh.
(For more information on this issue, further articles can be found in the Telegraph and on Click Liverpool.)