New Letterkenny allotment scheme deemed “too small”

A new green fingered development for Letterkenny , aimed at providing land for people to start growing their own vegetables has drawn criticism for being too small.

A new green fingered development for Letterkenny , aimed at providing land for people to start growing their own vegetables has drawn criticism for being too small.

A new area of waste ground near the Pastoral Centre in Ard O’Donnell has been excavated by Letterkenny Town Council and divided into allotments for local gardeners.

There have been 12 spaces provided and a draw will take place shortly to determine which of the 25 applicants will secure them.

Well-known market trader and allotment gardener, Robert ‘Brix’ Lloyd, who has been campaigning for the green area for six years says the sites provided are to small to serve as functional allotments.

“The new allotments opposite the VEC have been put in place by Letterkenny Town Council. There are 25 applicants and 12 sites but the size of the allotments are just too small. Even if people go mono-culture they will be too small. Theoretically they should provide vegetables for the year. That is seasonal vegetables for the entire year,” Mr Lloyd stated.

He claims the British standard of an allotment size is one tenth of an acre and certain developments, such as Ballymacool Terrace in Letterkenny, previously have allocated land plots of this size for residents to grow their own food.

He says the Council €50 annual fee is not justified compared to the size of the plots.

“There is a problem with paying €50 for the size your getting. In commercial ventures you can get it for more or less the same,” he added.

He said he also has concerns about the location of the development as it may attract anti-social behaviour.

“They need to look at accessing their landbanks and propose a spot less exposed. Typically allotments are not vandalised as they are placed out of the way a bit. At the very least there should be hedge,” Brix added.

Ciaran Martin, Development Officer with Letterkenny Town Council says the Ard O’Donnell project is a “pilot scheme” with the view of running a more significant project in the future if the demand is there for it.

“We have run the pilot scheme to see if the demand was there. We are following up another site with the HSE with the view to a long term project. This was for us to perfect management techniques and see what the interest was, to give people a taste of it, but the long term aim is still to have another location,” Mr Martin stated.

He said they hoped to have a larger site in place within the next three years.

“We did look at a larger site that we thought we would have been able to get ready for this growing season but it fell through because there was issues with the residents. So, in order to get something for this growing season we had to go with a smaller site. Therefore it was an opportunity to give people to get in there. We realise there is a mixture between the horticulturists and the small-time people who just want a little bit of land because maybe they don’t have a garden and just want to grow something. So this is what we see as a short to medium term solution,” he said.