Shepperton Allotments is a little oasis of calm in the middle of the village and a haven for bees, insects and wildlife. Unless you know it is there, you can be forgiven for missing it. With Halliford School, the Greeno Rec and Manygate Lane bordering it, this piece of land is a treasure in the community. We went along to have a tour with John, Ray and Liz from the Shepperton Allotment Association committee (below).
Shepperton Allotments have existed since 1862.
The land is leased from Spelthorne Council on a pepper corn rent and on 7 year rolling basis and in return the Association is responsible for all site maintenance and improvement. Long may that continue. It is such an asset. There are now 130 members, each tending either a full or partial plot. A quarter plot (which seems ample room to grow some fruit, veg and flowers) costs £46 per year and over 60’s get it for £33. As well as the more able bodied, raised beds have been created for wheelchair users. Jon Button, chair of the Shepperton Horticultural Association, tends two of them. What a fabulous idea. Gardening is a recognised way of supporting your mental as well as physical health.
Monty Don is a case in point. He has battled depression all his life but the garden enables him to relax and regain perspective.
The group has worked with St Nicholas school and local Beaver and Brownie groups, showing young people the joys of growing your own. It also has plans to work with Thamesmead School.
As well as the satisfaction of gardening and growing, you become part of a supportive community of like-minded people. Everyone keeps an eye on each other, as well as exchanging tips and excess produce. We gather there is a thriving social scene too, as well as talks by prestigious growers in horticulture such as Gerry Edwards, Chairman of the RHS Fruit Group who gave a talk to an audience of 70 or so in the summer.
In terms of maintenance, wood chips are delivered free of charge by a local tree surgeon who is happy to find an outlet for his tree waste and rain is collected in water butts. Site Manager, Ray, keeps a look out for plots which need some attention and tends paths, hedges and overgrowing areas. One plot has been put aside as a memorial garden for peace and contemplation.
You really could spend the whole day down here… But there is the problem! Where does one spend a penny? To be fair there are a couple of portaloos on site, but that is not ideal. This summer was a particular problem to put it mildly! So the committee is looking into installing proper toilets. There would be baby changing facilities and facilities will be wheelchair accessible.
Inflation has certainly seen off the notion of spending a penny though. Just to get the mains connected will cost about £10,000! The total build cost is expected to be in the region of £15,000 – £20,000 which is beyond the means of the group. They are intending to apply for grants but are also looking for local businesses or individuals who could help support the project.
Can you help? Get in touch with John White by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and happy gardening!