Sunday, September 27, 2009
Community allotments and Gardens should be provided
With the current economic downturn people are looking at ways to become more self sufficient. I followed Corrigan’s farm on RTÉ and I enjoyed the first series. A second series will be aired shortly. The programme motivated me to submit a motion to Waterford City Council calling for the provision of community allotments and gardens as a method of civic participation in creating a healthy, clean and sustainable environment. It is actually something that came up a bit on the doorstep during the recent local election and it is an area that many community groups are interested in. There are currently no allotment spaces available for members of the public to rent from the city council.
Section 2(1) of the Acquisition of Land (Allotments) Act 1926 (we really need to update some of our laws) states that the local authority may provide allotments as a result of demand made by members of the public. Does such a demand exist? I believe it does. Interestingly the Minister at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has recently announced that he will be ensuring local authorities include an allotment officer who will work to ensure the provision of adequate land for allotments and provide support to users.
There are many benefits to providing allotments and community gardens. Aside from the obvious one in that it could provide a valuable source of income for the city council it could also help meet the social needs of citizens and maintain a sense of community. It would also be good for the Environment and possess a range of health benefits. I also see opportunities in providing educational benefits to children and others to learn about vegetable growing. It might even provide opportunities for some of those who are out of work. As Chairperson of the Council’s Environment Strategic Policy Committee this is an issue I intend to pursue. I have submitted a motion to be debated at a full council meeting and I hope it is both supported and implemented.