ecotherapy

Twenty years at Lewes Community Allotment

By Allotment Coordinator Sarah Rideout

How it began

Lewes Community Allotment was originally known as Lewes Organic Allotment Project, or LOAP. It was created by Common Cause Coop in 1998, through the hard work of a group of local people. We've had help from Lewes District and Lewes Town Councils as well. We've had funding from different sources, for example, from the Lottery to create the raised beds suitable for people with mobility problems. We have a membership of people who work with us to manage the allotment.

What we have done

We developed workshops for children called The Lottie, working with Lewes schools for 10 years.

The Compost Doctor scheme and Wild in Lewes springboarded from here.

Current and future work

We have evolved to work with groups of people of all abilities who look after the plot, learn about growing through our social and therapeutic horticulture sessions, and take fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers home.

We are lucky to have a fantastic Sessional Worker, Felicity Ann, and a wonderful volunteer, Penny, who support our work. We also bring in other specialist trainers at times, such as James from Square Lemon Training, who demonstrates safe handling techniques, and Peter May, an expert on apple trees and pruning. 

We continue under the management of Common Cause Coop, and are currently Reaching Communities Lottery-funded through the Flourish Project, and hope to continue working with groups of people with learning disabilities from the St Nicholas Centre, Plumpton College, as well as other groups and individuals in the coming years.

 

How we grow

We use organic methods for pest control and feeding plants. Barriers such as wood ash and wool pellets deter slugs and snails, netting keeps cabbage white butterflies away from brassicas.

There are three small ponds which help to support the team of natural pest controllers -  frogs, toads, slow worms, lizards and birds which come to drink.

Around new seedlings, we may use organic certified slug pellets to get them started. We also start seedlings off at members’ homes to give them a chance to harden off.

Native wild flowers and some ‘weeds’ are left to grow, along with green manures to help foraging pollinators. Many different types of solitary bee visit the plot, including masses of red-tailed bees.

In the winter, we all get together to discuss the successes and failures of the year, and plan our next round of growing on 'big ideas' sheets. We also choose other activities to try, such as local craft skills, art projects, wildflower walks, but particularly things connecting to wildlife.

Get in touch

If you are interested in coming to sessions, we currently meet on Wednesdays.

More info on LCA here

Sarah Rideout, LCA Coordinator

07502 608929 flourishloap@gmail.com

 

 

Last Rural Pathways session at Lewes Community Allotment

By Emma Chaplin

We had our last session with the Rural Pathways group from Plumpton College at Lewes Community Allotment. There were some challenges to navigate. The allotment had a wasps' nest, in the raised beds and Sarah was awaiting someone from Lewes District Council to sort it out. The students came later than usual because some of them had been taking part in a football match. Niyati and Pat brought Sarah some beautiful flowers.

But it was a lovely afternoon. We decided to spend part of the time doing some feedback with Niyati, Pat, Emma and Mark Gilbert. Then we had a celebration.

Emma handed out certificates to all the students and thanked them for their hard work on behalf of Flourish, then we all enjoyed some of Felicity Ann's delicious carrot cake and jam tarts. Pat had made some elderflower cordial which was lovely. Some of the students had brought treats to share, and we also enjoyed some apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard, which was great on such a hot day.

Emma went through the students' workbooks that Niyati had brought along, and was really impressed by their work. Some allotment members came to say hello and join in, and it was a really nice. We wish all the students well in their futures.

New St Nicholas group at the Allotment - colours and wasps

Emma Chaplin

Today was a little challenging, because Sarah discovered that we have a wasps' next at the allotment, in the raised beds, so Sarah was very careful about working with the new St Nicholas Centre group away from that area until the Council are able to come (later in the day) to sort it out.

So, after taking the register half way down the plot, Sarah explained the Golden (safety) Rules to the group. These include being careful where they walk because the ground is uneven, not taking tools from the shed (Flourish put out the tools that are needed), wearing gloves when working with soil, washing hands, not running, being aware of the ponds etc, and reporting any injuries immediately to a staff member.

Then Felicity Ann handed out paper and pencils, and the group drew flowers, insects, birds, foxes. Whatever they wanted to. Sarah asked what colours they noticed. People mentioned red, green, white, orange, yellow and purple.

After that, Felicity Ann and Sarah took the group for a little walk to look at other allotments.

Photos from almost two decades at Lewes Community Allotment - from early days to Flourish!

Lewes Community Allotment began life in 1998. It's gone from being an unused plot to the wonderful, accessible resource now enjoyed by many local groups and individuals. We have raised beds, a covered shelter, a pizza oven, ponds, children's area, fruit trees, herbs, flowers and an abundant array of vegetables. 

We will be celebrating 20 years in 2018, and we'd like to thank everyone who has supported the project. All our wonderful members, Common Cause Cooperative directors, Lewes Town Council, the National Lottery, plus all the people, young and old, who have come up to lend a hand, muck in and help, or simply enjoy the space.

Sarah Rideout,

Photos by Sarah Rideout, Emma Chaplin & others