In February this year (2012) we finally reached the point where the new allotments were opened for the Goring and Streatley residents. Land has been leased from Thames Water (through the Streatley Parish Council) and over 50 allotments are now available. Through grants the land has been cleared, fenced, and water connected. The take up of the allotments has been tremendous with only a very few left. The allotment holders have now formed an Allotment Society and to take on the ongoing management.
Goring and Streatley residents independently had petitioned their Parish Councils to assist in the provision of allotments. Tom Worthington joined GSSG to seek help in the progress of this, particularly for Goring. Following significant response to an advert placed by Tom Worthington of GSSG in the Goring Gap News regarding establishing allotments within Goring, the first meeting of those interested happened in the Belleme Room on 25th June 2008. Over 30 people were there, including half a dozen from Streatley. The meeting was Chaired by Tom with assistance from Bernard Clucas who has worked an allotment in various places for 35 years and Dave Holt, chairman of the Environment and Community committee of Goring Parish Council (GPC).
A working party was voted in to define the structure of the group and begin liaison with the GPC. The working party consists of Nigel Dodd, chairman; Bernard Clucas; Anne-Marie Chase and Den Russell. Contact details were recorded of all participants for notification of future meetings etc.. In October 2008 the working party organised visits to other local allotments to discover how they were used and operated.
An event in the Rectory Gardens was organised on 28th June 2008 for those interested in having access to an allotment plot or part thereof. At the event a full plot was physically marked out to enable people to decide what proportion of a plot they wished to work.
A “petition” has been signed by Goring parishioners, interested in having an allotment, and presented to the Goring Parish Council. The Streately residents have provided a similar petition to The Streatley Parish Council.
At a meeting of Goring Parish Council, in March 2009, the chairman proposed the following: that “Having received a petition signed by or on behalf of 31 electors, this council accepts that there may be a case for providing allotments for residents of Goring and appoints a task group under the chairmanship of Cllr Ann Hart to examine the options for appropriating the council’s own land for use as allotments”.
Those interested in obataining an allotment are encouraged to attend Parish Council Meetings to maintain support for the allotments. Dates of further meetings are available at here on the Goring Parish Council web site…
In Streatley there were some disused allotments (from WWII) where a few hardy people were still battling the weeds, rabbits and lack of water supply, and continued to keep an allotment. This site belonged to Thames Water who were trying to evict them from the land as no rent had been paid for many years. Streatley Parish Council, led by Nikki Swan from GSSG, who held positions with both organisations,entered into negotiations to re-establish a proper lease for the land. Thames Water were happy to do this, but the negotiations were protracted. Eventually agreement was reached that the Streatley Parish Council would hold the lease with Thames Water, and the allotment holders would have individual agreements with the Parish Council. Streatley Parish Council worked with the community of existing and potential allotment holders to agree on terms and conditions, and the work which needed to be done to clear the land and make it suitable for growing food. Money was raised through several grants to re-fence, rabit and deer-proof the area, clear about twice to three times the existing area, and put in water. Work began on the land in February 2012 and the first allotments were allocated by May 2012. The council, GSSG and the allotmentholders had worked together to effect a huge transformation to the land. In early 2012 Goring Parish Council asked if some allotments could also be made available to Goring residents which was also agreed.
Since the first allotments were allocated the allotment holders have formed an allotment society and have monthly working parties to continue to improve the site. Further funds have been raised to help with this progress.