The ‘good life’ in east Fife!

Allotment owner Pauline Normand at the Buckhaven Allotments.
Allotment owner Pauline Normand at the Buckhaven Allotments.

Whether it’s beautiful blooms or verdant veggies, it seems many people in east Fife are desperate for a ‘good life’ – with their very own allotment.

Yes, growing spaces are becoming so popular that Fife Council has waiting lists for many of its sites and is now on the lookout for new planting areas across the region to cope with the demand.

John Moist

John Moist

It follows a surge in popularity of ‘growing your own’, with a number of sites now up and running across the Kingdom, including at East Wemyss, Buckhaven and Pittenweem.

In Buckhaven, the aptly named ‘Growing Space’ at Burns Road, was created in 2012 as part of a partnership between the Council and environmental charity CLEAR.

Now entering its third season, the site has proved to be so popular there is now a waiting list of 10 people all eager to get their fingers green.

Not just a public allotment site – of which there are four plots – the Growing Space also has community plots, a 120-tree community orchard, school plots, a polytunnel and nurseries, and various other raised beds and nurseries.

The organisation works with many groups and schools to improve the area, and relies heavily on volunteers, such as Ronnie, a local joiner, and many others whose hard work has been recognised with several volunteer awards.

Bob Taylor, chairman of CLEAR, said: “We have seen more local volunteers getting involved in our community growing, as opposed to individual growing. Some of the allotment holders at the Growing Space are active in the community events and we’d love to see more people along and involved in the work of improving the wider community.”

Now, owing to the popularity of sites such as the Growing Space, the Council is keen to replicate that success throughout the region.

One site which has been long in the planning, and opened in April, is at Pittenweem. Home to seven allotment sites, it is already fully occupied and there’s even a waiting list.

Peter Duncan, allotment officer, said: “Over the last four years, Fife Council has been one of the most proactive authorities in Scotland in providing growing spaces for communities.

“In Fife, we have been tailoring these growing spaces to suit the communities in which they are situated.

“The most successful is the partnership between CLEAR and the Council. This area has become a haven for horticultural enthusiasts and a learning resource for all ages. Credit should go to CLEAR for taking this project forward to gain national recognition.”

He added: “There is a growing demand for people to grow their own food and enjoy all the other benefits that gardening can bring. To open up more growing spaces and provide people in North East Fife with more opportunities, I am working with communities in West Wemyss, Leven, St Monans and Crail.”

John Moist from Pittenweem is the proud renter of a brand new allotment site in the village.

The Council-run site only opened four weeks ago and is already full occupied.

John is glad finally to have a space of his own, after having his name down on the waiting list for a plot at Anstruther, and then latterly Pittenweem, for more than two years.

John said: “I have had an allotment site before this one, and I’ve always been into gardening. The pleasure it gives you, from seed, to propagating and harvesting, you get enormous satisfaction.”

John says the allotment holders are keen to involve the whole commuinity and they are looking at working with groups such as Pittenweem in Bloom in the future.

“There’s absolutely a growing interest in growing your own and having an allotment,” he added. “We hope to have an open day soon, perhaps close to the Pittenweem Festival, to show this is here for the benefit of the whole community.”

Pauline Normand has been involved with CLEAR’s activities at the Growing Space in Buckhaven for over a year, but this season she has a space to care for all of her own after a woman decided to give up half of her plot.

Pauline said: “I met one of the CLEAR co-ordinators after I happened to walk past the Globe - a community learning garden - and asked what was going on. They said I should come along and volunteer and I ended up meeting so many like-minded people.

“Every fortnight I would go up to the Globe and help out, and then someone told me about the Growing Space, so I went to one of their open days and saw the work that was being done and got hooked.”

Pauline says there has “absolutely” been an increase in this kind of pasttime, and added: “It’s a fantastic community thing. It gets you out, and when I moved to Methil, I didn’t really know anyone, so it was a really good way to meet like-minded people.”