Growing your own is all part of the ‘escape to the country’ dream so when the village of Langcliffe lost its allotment, after more than a century of harvesting homegrown fruit and vegetables at the site, it was a devastating blow for the local community.
Speaking to Country Week in March last year, two months after the eight plots were removed by landowner Langcliffe Hall Estate, one local of the North Yorkshire village, Pat Smelt, described the loss of the space as “the most devastating incident to occur in the village in the past ten years”, other than the closure of the village school in 2007.
Pat and her husband Alan had tended to their plot at the allotment for 30 years - and it was another knock for a village which has also lost its shop and post office, as well as the one pub that was situated just outside of the village.
Despite the disappointment felt by Pat, and other residents, she spoke of the need to “move on”. Now, after much hard work, not only has the community moved on, but it has found a way of establishing a new means of satisfying green-fingered tendencies.
Villager Helen Jarvis got back in touch with Country Week to tell us more.
“Following the closure and destruction of the Langcliffe allotments, there was a strong feeling in the village that something had to be done. Another village asset had gone forever.
“Several meetings were held to discuss ideas and then an area of land on the edge of the village came on the market. The allotments couldn’t be replaced but a community garden would allow people to have their own growing plots and would benefit the whole village.”
Loaded with enthusiasm about the potential of the venture, villagers set up a charitable trust and its trustees launched an appeal for help raising the funds that they would need to snap up the available plot of former farmland in the village that had come on the market.
The response from residents was emphatic. More than £15,000 was raised with individual donations ranging from £200 to £5,000. This war chest saw the trust buy the land and add fencing to it.
The Woodland Trust has also stepped in and has gifted the village trust more than 100 saplings which again stirred community spirit. The Settle branch of the Young Rangers group joined volunteer residents last month to plant the saplings and form both a hedge and a windbreak.
Working together, they also helped to scarify, rake and seed an area that will become a blooming wildflower meadow in the future. There was helpful advice to guide the project and a supply of seed too from the Hay Time Project - a Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust initiative.
Helen said there are grand plans to develop the new Langcliffe Community Garden in the coming months and years.
“The next stage will be to rebuild the old drystone wall along one side of the garden. The funds raised won’t stretch to the full cost of this work, but grants are being applied for.
“Another next step is to set out growing plots for fruit, flowers or vegetables. The plots will be available for village residents, with priority given to those without their own garden.
“It is envisaged that the community garden will evolve and develop over the years, responding to the needs of the village. It is an exciting development which has the active support of the people of Langcliffe.”
She added: “Something good, which has brought people together, and is already a great community asset, has risen from an act of destruction and given village residents great hope for the future.”
It is a happy ending too for Pat and Alan Smelt who are set to take up a plot at the new garden.
Anyone who would like a small area in the garden to grow their own fruit, flowers or vegetables is invited to contact Langcliffe Community Garden trustee David Croll for more details on 01729 822875.