Allotment revolution makes Sunderland top of the plots

Twin sisters, Becky and Amber Renton, aged nine, helped make Christmas wreaths at the Washington Community allotments.
Twin sisters, Becky and Amber Renton, aged nine, helped make Christmas wreaths at the Washington Community allotments.
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SUNDERLAND has some of the highest numbers of allotment holders in the country as gardeners make the most of the city’s cheap rents.

A survey has shown that popularity for growing your own veg has exploded in recent years with waiting lists for allotments soaring.

Becky and Amber Renton, 9 and Joseph Robson,5, helping Claire Hutchinson from Groundworks and members at the Washington Community allotments.

Becky and Amber Renton, 9 and Joseph Robson,5, helping Claire Hutchinson from Groundworks and members at the Washington Community allotments.

Sunderland has the fourth highest number of plots in the country – 2,775.

The city also has some of the lowest rents in the country, with charges of just 9p per square metre.

In comparison, some other local authorities charge as much as 55p per square metre and some have seen a rise of 200 per cent in the cost of rent.

Peter Hurrocks, regional representative for the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, said: “Demand is very high at the moment and there is hardly an unoccupied plot anywhere.

“Nearly every square metre of land that could be used has been reclaimed to use as a plot.

“I think there is a big appeal in knowing exactly what is going into the food and into the land it is grown in.

“Often you hear about supermarkets spraying chemicals on their produce and people now are more concerned about that and what is being used.

“There are also the obvious benefits of a healthy diet as well as an active lifestyle as having an allotment is like using the green gym.

“Working an allotment involves bending, stretching and reaching and you have access to it all year round.

“I also think you definitely save money growing your own veg as organic produce in the shops has a big premium.”

Councillor James Blackburn, portfolio holder for attractive and inclusive city, said: “Demand for allotments across the country has increased significantly and this is also the case in Sunderland.

“Allotments provide a source of cheap food as well as giving allotment holders the opportunity to be healthy, take time out from everyday life, gain a sense of achievement, and be part of a community all at the same time.

Twitter: @tomwhite7