Allotments in Sheffield which had fallen prey to arsonists and vandals are flourishing again thanks to a £20,000 refurbishment.
Stubbin Allotments near Firth Park date back to at least the end of the Second World War, when returning soldiers dug in to help fill local larders amidst ongoing rationing.
Its proud heritage had taken a bit of a battering in recent years, after vandals torched a shed, smashed up produce and looted equipment.
But its fortunes are looking up after Sheffield Council ploughed in around £16,000, topped up with more than £3,000 raised by plot holders themselves, to improve security and facilities at the site.
The money paid for fencing, new gates, lighting to be installed, rubbish to be cleared and fresh pipes to be laid to fix the leaky water supply.
Jason Seymour, who sits on the allotment society committee, told how the investment had reinvigorated the site and given allotment holders a welcome boost.
"We're one of the oldest sites in Sheffield with our own trade hut, which was set up to sell gardening supplies to people on low incomes, but there hadn't been any investment for many years and that was beginning to show," he said.
"About five years ago I had a wooden hut which was burned down to the ground, and we've had people come in and smash stuff up or pinch things numerous times in recent years.
"The improvements have made people feel more secure and given them a bit more land to play with because a lot of the junk that's accumulated over the years was cleared.
"They can now plant more produce and do so safe in the knowledge they're not going to return in the morning and find it all ripped up. It's given the whole site that bit of a kick up the backside which it needed."
Stubbin Allotments on Verdant Way has 36 plots, all of which are occupied, and there is a small waiting list.
Jason, who works as a landscape gardener, said it was home to a friendly community of plot holders happy to share equipment and produce, and willing to muck in when others need a hand.
Sheffield Council manages over 3,000 allotments at more than 70 sites across the city.
A council spokesman said: "I’m very pleased to say that, even in these times of financial pressures, we have been able to invest almost £16,000 on installing new security fencing at Stubbin allotments in Firth Park this year.
"Last year we replaced the old water pipework at Stubbin, to improve the water supply for tenants, and the Stubbin Allotment Society have also used some of the income they have raised from their own fundraising activities to make improvements to the site. These improvements were in addition to our routine maintenance work, a lot of which is done by our allotment ranger.
"All the money raised through allotment rents in Sheffield is used to fund the allotments service and improvements such as these. Programmed works are identified by allotment societies, tenants and allotments officers, and are discussed and prioritised according to need.
"Anyone interested in applying for an allotment can contact us by phone on 0114 273 4528. We have immediate vacancies at a number of sites, and know that keeping an allotment is a great way to keep fit, learn more about gardening, grow fruit and veg, and enjoy the great outdoors."
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