The weather today was beautiful and I headed up to Bargoed to visit Oaklands Hall Allotments.I first visited the group in 2010 when they had the very initial idea for a wildlife area and last time I visited the site there was rather a lot of snow on the ground and not a single leaf on the trees. Today the experience was completely different.
The allotment is based on an estate in Bargoed, classed as one of the most deprived estates in Wales. The allotment however is a place of peace and tranquillity where volunteers come to work on individual and community plots, as well as teaching school children about gardening, offering skills and advice to other plot holders, undertaking local litter picks etc etc etc.
The wildlife project has grown from strength to strength since the initial idea of converting a plot. The group has received funding to get a contractor in who will dig up the land (which is full of old fly tipped litter), remove it, clean it and return it for use. The volunteers will then create a bog garden, pond and wild flower meadow. The group has recently developed a partnership with the council biodiversity officer who has advised them not only on the wildlife area but also shown them potential for other parts of the site. The group have taken it on board whole heartedly and now every small corner has been left for wildlife, every plot holder has been barred from spraying and many have taken this to a new level by trialling actions such as a no dig policy, letting the vegetables compete with nature. Throughout the site, the group are also re-using old items such as wheely bins for water butts, crates for insect hotels, scrap wood for garden sheds and repairing old benches. The essence of the project is that home grown veg should be a cheap hobby, making it accessible to all. The group have recently opened a small shop where individuals and groups can purchase low price manure, seeds etc. The relaxed atmosphere on site, provides opportunities for personal development and everyone is included in the regular tea and coffee breaks.
There is a sense of excitment on the project and I’m really looking foreard to seeing the results on my next visit.