Allotment case study - Hatchlands

In September 2011, the Brown family became proud plot holders of our 1,000th allotment.

Claire, Ashley and William Brown (aged 7) live just a 6-minute walk away from the Hatchlands estate in West Horsley, and Claire already has big plans to grow some 'big vegetables' on this new family plot just outside the walled community garden.

'Huge pumpkins for William at Halloween, tepees dripping with beans and rows and rows of potatoes and onions – this lovely new plot will allow us to dream and grow big. My husband Ashley can even have his Brussel sprouts! For us, it’s about practicing what we preach – growing our own fresh food right on our doorstep, and with the seasons.' - Claire Brown

Claire believes that kids learn by 'osmosis' and is also putting her growing skills to good use with a gardening club at William’s school.

Their new allotment is part of a much wider community project that has blossomed in recent years at Hatchlands. We are working in partnership with 'Grace and Flavour' a not-for-profit horticultural co-operative of local residents in East and West Horsley.

The project aims to grow local food for local people, and has brought back to life the 3-acre walled garden on our estate in West Horsley. The community project is set up on a CSA model and members of the co-operative share in the work of cultivating the land – taking a share of the crop to match their input of time and effort.

Produce is also sold through local village shops and 10 per cent of the crop is donated to those in the local community who don’t have easy access to fresh veg. As well as sharing produce, people share skills, and so far the project has recruited over 100 volunteers – both first-time growers and gardening gurus.

Su Johnston, a founding director of Grace and Flavour, said: 'One weekend we put out a call to villagers to come and help us get started, and it just grew and grew from there.

'Now there’s a huge community spirit here. People pitch up whenever they can and clock up a few veg hours, and we insist on regular tea and cake breaks! There’s all ages – from retired folk to Duke of Edinburgh Award participants and even one or two babies.'

Along with the harvest festivals and scarecrow competitions, plans are afoot to restore the potting shed and to create a new children’s garden with its own raised bed.