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Popular local allotment to close

All images courtesy of Knowle West Health Association

A popular local allotment is to close – following funding cuts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s Grow Community Allotment is a 1.3 acre site run by charity Knowle West Health Association (KWHA) on Springfield Allotments in Andover Road.

Established in April 2012 – the site was created from a virtual wasteland with the help of community groups and local schools.

Allotment staff have held a range of courses over the years – from food growing and wildlife conservation to therapeutic crafts and nature connection practice – and the organisation has recently set up a Forest School on the site.

KWHA cites the outdoor space as “nurturing mental health and community involvement” – with a number of volunteers who have regularly helped out on the plot.

During the pandemic, produce grown on the allotment has also been delivered to the most vulnerable in the community.

But with funding from Henry Smith Charity and Tudor Trust now ending – KWHA says it has no choice but to close the green haven – which has views over the Northern Slopes to the city beyond.

Treasurer of the KWHA trustees, Edward Duffield says: “After 10 fantastic years we are very sad to be leaving the Let’s Grow site at Springfield Allotments in a few weeks time.

“Covering 1.3 acres, it is a large site with three polytunnels, two sheds and a secure store but it is expensive to to keep in tip top good order…

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the charity funding picture which has become very difficult indeed. This has coincided with the expiry of two major grants  after several years of brilliant support. It means we are now needing to spread our remaining funds to meet the greatest needs and highest impact and it simply won’t stretch to keeping the allotment….”

The charity operates three other areas of work which it will continue to focus on – the largest of which is the free counselling service for between 40 and 50 clients each week.

It also runs community kitchen classes at Filwood Broadway and the Friendship Club for older people which has around 30 members who meet every week at Filwood Community Centre. 

Edward adds: “Our allotment tutor has gone to one of the schools who used our classes so we are delighted that the work of the Forest School continues. And, there is further good news from another group, the Brandon Trust, who have enjoyed Let’s Grow for many years – they have found new opportunities at the Media Centre’s garden.”

The allotment is being handed back to Bristol City Council’s Allotments Office by the end of December – with a number of different organisations already interested in taking it over.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “Following the decision by the Let’s Grow project to leave their space at Springfield Allotments, we are exploring ideas for increasing the availability of plots at the site, in conversations with community groups and tenants.

“Having already received several enquiries about this site, we are looking at the best ways to use the infrastructure left behind by Let’s Grow, to provide further food growing opportunities.’’

Over the years the allotment has also been popular for community events – including a barbecue during the annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta – as its far reaching views made it the perfect spot to see the evening launches.

Let’s Grow also won several awards from the annual RHS South West in Bloom’s It’s Your Neighbourhood Scheme – which looks at local green spaces – scooping an Outstanding in 2017.