We had a lively discussion about this initiative at our meeting on Jan 10th. People welcomed GAF visiting all the sites to get a better idea of what was happening on the ground. So far we have had survey returns from nearly a third of the Glasgow sites and we have visited 4 over the Christmas break. Chris Kuhn showed us how the data from the survey could be analysed to give a broad picture of the way in which land is divided and a profile of the plotholder population. Points raised in the discussion were:
a) People felt it was important to raise awareness about how allotment sites contribute to the wellbeing of their plotholders and provide a welcoming and supportive community for them. This includes both individuals and the various groups who take on a plot.
b) It is difficult to get any facts and figures about allotments so the survey was thought to be worthwhile. It would provide backing for our manifesto. However, associations do not keep much in the way of detail about their members, so being precise about demographics (age, gender, ethnicity) can be problematic. Even though absolute accuracy is not possible a snapshot of the current position is still helpful.
c) People felt that the uniqueness of the different sites was important. Each one is embedded in a different context and responds to different local conditions, It was critical that this should be recognised and valued. There should not be attempts to impose uniformity. For example, we discussed the way in which plots are organised and allocated on sites in response to both internal and external requests. Associations need to be able to respond flexibly – particularly in the case of internal requests.
d) Sharing information between sites was felt to be very valuable. It was clear from the variation in practice and experience in the small number of sites visited so far that there was a lot of useful knowledge to be exchanged between sites. We need to find an effective way to communicate this information.
- Legal – ‘Title’ to land, issues of liability, roles and responsibilities between associations and the local authority, issues of incorporation, etc.
- Capacity–Some sites are better run than others, a few do not provide a supportive experience for members. Conflict within associations is inevitable from time to time but is not always effectively managed. Access to training and support for committee members was needed. As volunteer-run organisations, associations’ capability to raise funds, apply for grants, lobby for locally distributed funding and respond to external challenges are also variable.
The draft minutes of the meeting can be found on the Resources page.
Request for Information
We’ve had a request from Stephen Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get in touch with him if any of you have any knowledge of people rough sleeping on any of the City’s allotment sites.