In Autumn 2003, Angela Johnson, a relatively new plot holder on Low Moor, spoke at a General Meeting of members , about her idea of starting an Allotment for Kids. After securing their agreement and the support of 3 other plot holders, June Darley, Angie Gardham King and Tegan Gates, Angela set about bringing the idea to fruition. In January, Plot 108 became available. Being immediately adjacent to the Car Park area, it was an ideal situation.
Volunteers helped clear the plot and in February 2004 Low Moor Community Kids’ Allotment opened. The first year’s membership was largely drawn from Fishergate School with a few “select” others. They were guinea-pigs whilst the team worked out how to set out beds etc and introduce the children to gardening.
The aim of the Allotment is “to offer a safe, child-centred environment in which children can be introduced to the enjoyment, skills, wonder and health benefits of gardening”. That objective remains the same today and is at the heart of all we do.
A grant from Awards for All enabled a perimeter fence and large shelter to be constructed (again by volunteers) and a series of raised beds were created. These included 12 small beds, to be worked individually by the 12 members. and a number of larger shared beds, which were a collective responsibility. The children share the work involved, but importantly they share the produce that is grown and harvested.
Our core activity was always, and remains, the 2-hour Saturday session when the members come down and, with the help of the leaders and a rota of parents, garden the allotment. The mid-session break is a chance to draw breath and for the children, an opportunity to share the company of others from different schools. Towards the end of the session, as harvests appear there is a sorting out of what needs to be taken home. As we move through spring and summer, seasonal sowings, pricking out and planting on takes place. And we traditionally finish our year with Hallowe’en on the Plot – an excellent way to wind up the year.
Since those early years, espalier and conventional fruit trees, currant and gooseberry bushes, a grape vine, raspberry canes and strawberry plants have all been planted and in mid summer the Plot has a very luxuriant appearance. The beds , large and small are full of vegetables, herbs and flowers and there is usually an abundance of fruit on trees and bushes to enjoy in the later months.
Some aspects of our activities have been on-going from those early years. We have always sought to use organic techniques where possible and avoid the use of pestcides. We make our own compost and comfrey juice to feed our plants. We have a wild-life pond and encourage insects and bees to visit the garden. We exhibit our produce in local shows, with some success , and we visit nearby places to see gardening in other contexts.
The Kids Allotment is now in its 16th year of activity and it looks as though there will remain an allotment for children on Low Moor for a good number of years to come.