Road verges to be turned into allotments amid cost of living crisis

Allotments photos - Street Allotment Project/SWNS
Allotments photos - Street Allotment Project/SWNS

Road verges will be turned into allotments after a council gave residents the green light to help feed people amid the cost of living crisis.

Shropshire Council unanimously voted through the “Right to Grow” initiative last week, which will allow community groups to convert small plots of public land into mini-allotments.

It means that areas of land as small as four metres (13ft) squared can be used to grow fruits and vegetables, including many grass verges next to main roads.

Contaminated and unsuitable ground will also be used by residents for beekeeping or composting.

Rosemary Dartnall, a Labour councillor for Bayston Hill, Column and Sutton who promoted the scheme, said: “It’s a perfect grassroots movement. At present, there is a substantial amount of unused land in the country.”

Positive move in providing healthy food

She added: “With the cost of living crisis and increasing food prices, this scheme has the potential to fulfil a need. The energy price crisis is also causing lots of people to make the choice between heat and eat.

“I’m not suggesting this initiative will solve all people’s problems, but it will help supplement what food they have available and help communities to budget better.

“It won’t solve the crisis, but it’s a positive move in providing healthy, fresh food to people on an ongoing basis.”

Cllr Dartnall also said that the scheme was about “exploiting little pockets of land” that most authorities will have, but might not think are suitable for purpose.

“All manner of unused land can be used from road verges to small patches next to developments, to ground that was previously used but has fallen into disrepair. Even small plots on schools can be used,” she said.

“It’s always good to use land to the best of our ability and at the moment, we have a perfect storm of lots of things.”

The cost of living crisis has seen food prices soar by 13 per cent in the year to August, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile, research from KPMG has shown that three in 10 Britons are having to rely on their savings just to afford basic necessities such as shelter, food and fuel.

The survey of 3,000 consumers at the start of this month also showed that one in 10 have already depleted their reserves, with a similar share having none to start with.

The allotments, which are free for residents to use, were hailed by the council as an opportunity for locals to grow their own food and save money for other necessities as the nation heads into an uncertain winter.

Individuals and community groups can apply for a plot of land through their local council.