We would love to greatly extend the amount of food that is grown within the community. At one time, post-war, a large amount of food was grown in the town but, through development, most growing areas were lost, including large swathes of allotments. There is no reason why existing areas shouldn’t be opened up again, whether via community planting projects, in the form of community allotments at one end of the scale and small-scale planting in beds and other areas at the other, as well as tree and hedge planting with a focus on traditional, edible Kent produce, such as cherries and cobnuts.
Within this vision, local schools, people with learning disabilities and local residents could participate, including people on the waiting list for their own allotment.
So how about turning the vision into reality? A number of potentially suitable plots have been identified, including an overgrown former allotment in the centre of town that is owned by a housing association. We are at different stages of discussion and planning to try to ‘unlock’ these. We would love to have lots of sites for growing produce, so if you are aware of any that might be suitable, no mater how large or small, please let us know.
Our first community garden and allotment project is at Tynwald Residential Home for the Elderly. Run by a charitable trust, we were approached by Tynwald’s volunteer trustee chairman, Councillor John Schoner, to see if we wanted to become involved. A site visit swiftly established that this was an ideal initial project to not only for our plans to unlock as much of the town as possible for community planting of trees and vegetables but also for planting wildflowers and as another site for one of our bug hotels (see other projects).
The residential home celebrated its 50th birthday in 2011, has 24 residents and has roots back to Hythe’s Old Peoples Welfare Committee and the Venetian Club that was sponsored by the Venetian Fete Society. Anyone who is a resident of Hythe or a dependent of residents is eligible to apply for a place. It has a lovely raised location, on Hillside Street, and a large garden around all four sides of the home. This has been maintained on a voluntary basis but, with the retirement of the last gardener, the trustees faced a problem. Knowing the goals and activities of Transition Hythe, and our search for sites, there was a ready-made solution!
General tidying of the garden has started and a plan has been drawn up for planting, including the allotment, with this put to trustees for approval. We are seeking input and involvement from the residents, who we are looking forward to getting to know, so that it can become a joint project between them and the town, with the produce shared.
The planning and first works party meets on Monday 14th May, from 9.30am (come along for some or all of the morning) and we will then put a plan to the trustees at their meeting on Wednesday. For the first works party, please bring your own tools, after which we will be able to find out what tools are already on site.
As Transition Hythe’s Adam Brint, said: ‘This is a really exciting project and we are looking forward to working with John, the other trustees and the residents. The beautiful garden has a lot of potential and I am sure that lots of people will enjoy getting involved and helping out on an extremely worthwhile initiative.’
This is just the start: may there be many more!