Allotments lose out to Sport

I recently received this appeal in an email:

100 year-old Manor Garden Allotments lies within the Olympic Park site. Although the land was given in perptuity, these beautiful, productive vegetable gardens are shortly due to be concreted over to make way for a footpath for the 4 weeks of the 2012 Olympic Games. A campaign is under way to protect the allotments and to encourage a more imaginative Olympic development which includes this special place with its healthy, green lifestyles and vibrant multicultural community. Some of the allotment holders have worked the same plots for many years so it has become an essential part of their lives (for example Reg, 70, has worked his for 54 years having inherited it over from his father who took it on 75 years ago.)….”

The appeal was sent by lifeisland.org you can find full details at their web site and they ask people to sign a web petition.

To my mind this appeal proves how important it is to support the formation of a nation wide organisation to promote gardening and horticulture in all its forms and to balance the power of the sports lobby. The thoughtlessness and ignorance displayed by the assumption that a 100 year old habitat can be destroyed to promote the convenience of an event that will last for 4 weeks and that this habitat can somehow be reinstated afterwards is just breathtaking. I am all in favour of supporting sport, in fact I am deeply grateful to the organisation that enables me to play tennis several times a week for a pittance at my local authority owned sports centre, but I feel that sport’s health and economic benefits are greatly overstated. Glasgow is currently bidding for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and I support that bid, I am sure that for the few weeks that they last they will benefit the city. But am I the only person who remembers the Glasgow Garden Festival? An entire spring, summer and autumn when Glasgow was full to bursting with happy free spending visitors and you could not get a hotel bed for love or money.

Far more people participate in horticultural activities both as active gardeners and as ‘spectator’ visitors to well known gardens than participate in sport (I think this is true even if you count watching football on the large screen at the local pub as participation). National policy should reflect this fact.

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