Roots are a commercial allotment provider. They already operate a site at Tuckers Meadow in the countryside outside of Bath and hope to open up a second site at Abbots Leigh Wood near Bristol. The plots come in a variety of sizes and the rentals vary, depending on what level of service a plot holder wants. Basically, it’s allotment provision for people with busy lives who haven’t got the time to put into a plot that say, an active retired person would have. A gap in the market has been identified and Roots are doing what they can to fill it.

However, there’s always a but… One being that regarding the site Roots want to open up at Abbots Leigh Wood, they’re running into opposition from some of the locals: Allotment plan is ‘blot on the landscape’ says village near Bristol 10.11.22. Some of that opposition may be down to snobbery from some of the very well heeled locals about allotments. In our view, that is most definitely not a legitimate basis for objecting to the proposed allotments! Some of the opposition is down to the number of vehicle movements the site would generate. That is a legitimate cause for concern.

The plots are aimed at time poor but relatively affluent people who are most likely apartment dwellers without access to a garden of their own. Basically, people living closer in to Bristol who would have to drive to get to the plots at Abbots Leigh Woods. It’s pretty much the same scenario at Tuckers Meadow where the vast majority of plot holders have to drive there and back.

We’re pretty sure that the people behind Roots are doing what they do with the best of intentions. However, any claims to be ‘eco friendly’ need to be looked at with a critical eye. As both sites are in locations that can only be accessed by car, the benefits of localised growing need to be offset against the number of extra vehicle movements that would be generated. This is sadly where the Roots model falls down a bit in that ultimately, it’s a traffic generator.

In an ideal world, an apartment/flat dweller shouldn’t have to be jumping into a car and driving a fair few miles just to get to an allotment. Bear in mind that quite a few inner city flat dwellers in both Bristol and Bath don’t drive so wouldn’t be able to access an allotment out in the countryside beyond the city fringes. They rightly would like an allotment they could walk to within fifteen minutes. Local authorities still have a statutory duty to provide allotments if it’s deemed there’s sufficient demand, as explained here: Allotments and the law. However, the caveat is that people may have to wait years before a suitable site can be found.

Walking around the inner part of Bristol and critically looking at the surrounds will show that there’s actually a fair bit of land going to waste that could be cultivated. There are barriers to bringing this land into cultivation ranging from issues with ownership through to a lack of imagination about what could be done with the land that is available. Which is why we’ve always been advocates of guerilla gardening, particularly on the estates: Actually maintaining a community garden:) 27.4.22. We’re also advocates of making use of whatever space is available to apartment/flat dwellers: It can be done:) 21.10.22. Also, the ‘developers’ shoving up the apartment blocks in Bristol need to be pressured into setting aside plots that are available for cultivation instead of the sterile ‘landscaping’ they currently provide around them. That will obviously take a lot of pressure to achieve but, never say never.

What’s needed is a radical rethink about how land in urban areas is used. This needs to happen alongside some deep thinking about where our food comes from. When the dots are joined together, who knows what can be achieved when it comes to making urban land available for cultivation? It’s bound to be better than jumping into a car and driving miles out into the countryside to tend an allotment plot…