HAND MADE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR HOME
Cultivation of land by ordinary people to grow food for their families is almost as ancient as the human race. Allotments (allocated pieces of ground with conditions of tenure) have a long history dating back to the erosion of feudal rights to cultivate common land.
From the 17th century guerrilla gardeners of Gerard Winstanley's Digger movement through the General Inclosure Act of 1845 to the 20th century Allotment Acts, society has recognised the need to provide ground for people to grow their own food.
Allotments waned in popularity after WW2 as food supplies improved and became more convenient. However more recent years have scientifically demonstrated the many health benefits of growing fresh food, and the outdoor exercise and social activity that gardening an allotment brings. The allotment movement is growing apace once more.
The allotment story
The allotment field in Duxford has been in use for at least 130 years.
The Parish Council bought the allotments from private ownership in 1958 and now manages the 5 acre site as "statutory allotments". There are the equivalent of 59 full-sized (250 square metre) plots, many of which are divided into two or more smaller plots that are more manageable for contemporary gardeners.
The soil in this part of Duxford is a band of river terrace deposits (sand and gravel) and alluvium and is light, easy to work and very fertile, unlike the chalky clay of the main village. The allotments used to be known as the Primrose Allotments, presumably because they grow well there!
Duxford Parish Council owns the allotments and manages them directly via the Allotments Officer. There is usually a waiting list, although not normally a long one. Application is made via the Parish Clerk.The rental year starts on 1 October, although occasionally plots become available at other times.
Sometimes plots have been neglected for several months by the outgoing tenant and so the autumn and winter give a welcome breathing space to weed, dig and plan, ready for the following spring. New tenants are expected to make a substantial start on cultivating their plot within three months of taking it on!
Useful free advice leaflets on preparing and planning a new plot are available from the National Allotment Society. Its also good idea to arm yourself with a kitchen gardening reference book. Try these:
Clevely A The Allotment Book (Collins)
Pollock M RHS Fruit and Vegetable Growing (Dorling Kindersley)
Obtaining a plot