PLANS for new allotments in Nythe are well under way with the first meeting of the Residents’ Working Group set to take place next month.
Following an agreement with Swindon Council to use land near the former Oakfield Bath University Campus and the Swindon Rugby Club at Greenbridge, residents in Nythe will be able to use the new plots by March next year.
Geraldine Brant, 47, who works at Swindon College, is one of the Nythe residents who will join the Residents Working Group.
The mum of two said: “It’s brilliant news because I have been on the waiting list for an allotment since 2007 so for me to be able to be in with a chance to have one close by is great.
“To be able to produce our own fruit and vegetables is a great thing for us particularly because it’s in walking distance in Nythe and I’ve been talking to the council to secure local allotments – I’ve been pushing for them to be put on the fields.
“I want to ensure that it’s fair for people to get an allotment and that dog walkers who use the field are taken into consideration so they don’t feel pushed out.”
Geraldine already shares an allotment with a friend and she regularly uses it to produce cheap, healthy food.
She said: “You really can save money by using an allotment and produce healthy foods, particularly soft fruits which are so expensive in the shops.
“It’s also great for families to work together and I do think it brings the community together with people helping each other out.”
This week, councillor Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), who has been fighting for residents to secure new allotment plots, is recruiting volunteers to join a new Residents Working Group. Dale said: “This is very much a community-driven project, for residents to be led by residents. I am just here to enable the plans to take place.
“The cost of living is up and people are doing what they can to eat healthily. Keeping an allotment is one of the best ways to do that.
“It is the first time allotments will be made available in the local area for local residents.”
There will also be an opportunity for residents in Stratton and in Covingham to apply for the plots.
“I am a big supporter of residents growing their own fruit and veg,” said Dale. “Allotments have the potential to help bring neighbours together and reduce food miles for locally grown produce.
“It’s also a great way to help children to re-learn the skills of growing their own food.”
A lot of work will still need to be done before the allotments are created, including fixing the site boundary, confirming the means of access and establishing the required fencing and water supply, as well as making an application for change of use and granting a lease to the future Nythe Parish Council.
Dale said: “I can come up with the ideas and get things moving in the council, but residents need to step in to help make it happen.
“A lot of work needs to be undertaken but this is a huge step forward for the local provision of allotment plots.
“I can’t claim to be the most green-fingered person, or know what needs to go into a new allotment site, but I’m sure plenty of interested residents do.”
A meeting for volunteers wanting to join the Residents’ Working Group will take place on October 22 from 6pm to 8pm at the Nythe Community Centre.