CHIPPENHAM’S waiting list for allotments has plummeted from 130 last year to fewer than 10.

Some people had been waiting up to five years for one of the 220 plots on the town’s six allotment sites.

But last summer’s wet weather and a spate of gardeners moving away mean plots have become free.

David Love, of the management committee for Chippenham Garden and Allotment Society, said: “They are all full at the moment but by early spring we’ll be looking to fill plots. A year ago we had 130 people on the waiting list and now there are only a handful, so you wouldn’t be waiting a long time.

“If you put your name down for some of the sites, you’d be first on the list.”

Chippenham’s allotments, owned by the town council, saw a huge surge in popularity after the Grow Your Own movement, led by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from 1999.

Mr Love said the society had been looking at getting more land but current availability made that pointless.

Frankie Jones, 59, of London Road, Chippenham, has just become the society’s secretary. She looks after an allotment of her own at Cricketts Lane.

She said: “It took me nearly three years to get mine because the waiting list was huge and there was a shortage of land. I know some people were even on it for five years.

“What we’re saying is don’t think you’ll have to wait years because you won’t now. A lot of people have been put off by last summer’s terrible weather.”

Mrs Jones said she reaped the rewards despite all the rain. She said: “The only crop that failed was my carrots, they all got washed away.

“I still got quite a lot of produce – parsnips, sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, I picked some rocket last week. I didn’t buy any salad from April to September.”

She said she also likes the community feel. “There is a share-the-wealth shelf where growers can place any surplus produce for others to help themselves,” she said.

The six sites are in Cricketts Lane, Deansway, Hardenhuish, Hungerdown, Ladyfield and Lords Mead.

Prospective gardeners can put their name down for a plot in general or ask for a specific site.

The annual rent is £5.50 per lug or £27.50 per five lug plot. One lug is about 150 square yards.

To be placed on the waiting list call, or to update contact details, call Mr Love on (01249) 658467.