Grassroots garden sharing scheme blooms
A scheme which matches would-be gardeners with spare patches of other people's gardens has got off to a brisk – but unexpected – start.
The Bath Area Garden Share project was set up as a solution to the long waiting list for allotments in the area.
But the vast majority of interest shown so far has come from people willing to offer part of their garden for others to use.
Organisers now have more gardens than gardeners wanting to use them.
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Co-ordinator Geoff Andrews said: "At the moment we have plots all over the city and in the surrounding area in search of gardeners.
"Some could be planted up with enough veg to feed a family with just a few hours of work. Others will take a bit more elbow grease, but all of them could be growing food this season.
"The list is changing all the time as we create matches and new people come forward."
The scheme pairs people who want to grow their own vegetables – but can't get an allotment – with householders whose gardens are too big for them.
Volunteers interview garden owners and gardeners before making an introduction and either side can say no to the proposed match at any point before signing an agreement, which lasts, initially, for a year.
Organisers say every attempt is made to allocate plots to gardeners living nearby to reduce unnecessary travel.
In exchange for providing the plot the owner gets a share of the vegetables it produces.
BAGS is based on a scheme run by volunteers which has worked successfully in Totnes in Devon for the past two years.
It is hoped that it will reduce pressure on the waiting lists for allotments, where at the moment 800 people face a wait of up to eight years.
A BAGS garden sharing agreement does not affect gardeners' positions on the council allotments waiting list.
Joining BAGS is free for owners. Gardeners pay £5 to cover running costs and £2 for insurance – which works out much cheaper than an allotment.
Mr Andrews added: "Plots for garden sharing don't have to be big. Many people will be happy with a plot the size of a front door."
The project is an initiative of the environmental group Transition Bath, working with the Bath and North East Somerset Allotments Association, and Bath Organic Group. For more information or to register go to www.bathorganicgroup.org.uk or call 01225 338473.