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Top of the Crops for Alness Allotments (21/05/08)
A bumper harvest of home-grown fruit and vegetables is expected in Alness this year after the creation of 26 new community run allotments.
Funding from The Highland Council via the Community Regeneration Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have enabled the Alness Allotment Society to transform vacant land at Milnafua into neatly fenced plots with a shed on each site for allotment holders.
So popular has this scheme been that all 26 plots have been snapped up by people from Alness and the surrounding areas all eager to grow their own fruit and veggies and there is already a waiting list.
The land has been leased to the Community Group by The Highland Council for a nominal fee of £1 per year. The Alness Allotment Society will manage and run the allotments and the £50 fee they collect from individual plot holders will be reinvested for ongoing maintenance of fences and paths.
Alan Muir is Chairman of the Alness Allotment Society and has already planted up his allotment plot. He said: “On behalf of our group I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and the many kind donations we have received to get the project up and running.
The Highland Council’s Chairman of the Resources Committee, Independent Councillor Carolyn Wilson is also chair of the Alness Initiative who put together the funding package for the project. She was delighted with the high interest the new allotments had generated. “This is a big project which would not have happened without good partnership working between the funders, the Alness Initiative and the community volunteers. At a time where households are questioning where in the world their food comes from and the health benefits of what they are eating, there is a big boom locally in the sale of fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. People seem more eager than ever to cultivate their gardens and areas of land to grow healthy fresh produce.
“The Council was delighted to help set up and fund the scheme as it fits in well with our Administration’s commitment to provide greener services and support projects which benefit our environment. I wish all the growers a bumper crop and I’m sure the Allotment Society’s enthusiasm will encourage more people to grow their own healthy food, share knowledge and contribute to the town’s ethos of becoming more environmentally friendly.”
Councillor Wilson also paid tribute to the hard work of Ward Manager Helen Ross who has played a pivotal role in pulling together the different council services and dealing with planning and funding issues as well as the hard work of the Alness Initiative’s former development worker, Helen Houston.
HIE's Nicola Ewing said: "The community will receive many benefits from having a piece of ground turned into a community asset. It will offer family activities and the Saturday markets will allow the wider community to produce healthy reasonably priced local produce all to the benefit of the local economy."
The next stage of the scheme is to create a community garden at the site once all the individual allotments are established.