Plot holders can bloom together

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ALLOTMENT gardeners are being urged to consider the benefits of forming associations.

Hartlepool Borough Council officials say there are “many advantages” to individual plot holders joining together including gaining access to grant funding that might not otherwise be available.

Joanne Taylor, the council’s environmental projects officer, said: “Associations can pool resources for the benefit of all members.

“For example, membership of an association could give you access to a tool or equipment store so you wouldn’t have to worry about whether you could afford that shiny new rotavator.”

The Haswell Avenue Allotment Association, which has recently purchased two new rotavators with National Lottery funding, is being held up as a successful example.

Chris Walker. secretary said: “We have been able to secure funding in excess of £12,000 for various projects and equipment since 2007 when we formed the association. If you are not an association, then you tend to be excluded from around 99 per cent of grants.”

The association, which has created a garden for use by local schools, has also received funding from the National Lottery (Big Lottery Fund), Tees valley Community Foundation and from the Police Property Act Funding Scheme together with local support from Hartlepool Power Station, Wilkinson, Tesco, Asda, Hartlepool Council’s Civic Lottery Fund and Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher through his ward member budget.

Council officials have also warned of some pitfalls to avoid.

Ms Taylor added: “As with all committees, the same people sometimes end up staying in post, almost by default, for years.

“This is fine if they are doing a good job but sometimes an injection of new blood can reinvigorate a stagnating group.”

For information or help to form an association call (01429) 284109.