Down to earth
Barnsley's garden gang
by Mick Lunney
Youngsters say allotment life in Athersley is saving them from boredom and the temptation to get on the wrong side of the law. The whole community is applauding Barnsley's budding citizens...
:: August 2007
Kids and dirt somehow go together, and allotments in Atherlsey are in big demand from youngsters. The project, set in the middle of a sprawling council estate, is proving a surprise hit, with demand for spaces outstripping supply.
The idea has been developed by Alan Carter, who was born and bred in the area. Alan works for the local Roundhouse Partnership, a community development organisation. His love of gardening and knowledge of the area has allowed him to inspire youngsters to get the green-fingers bug.
Move over Titchmarsh
He says, "I'm struggling to find enough space to give each youngster their own plot. It's fantastic to see them getting so into it, their parents are thrilled and the police officers in Atherlsey tell me crime has dropped, too".
One of the youngsters involved, 11-year-old Joshua, says having his own allotment has turned his life around. The temptation to loiter on the streets is pretty strong, he tells us, and his allotment is a refuge from day-to-day stresses and concerns:
"It calms me down, when I get stressed I come up here for a bit of peace. If not for this I'd be doing something else that isn't good for my health. I never thought I'd get into it but I've started coming up here a lot more."
Atherlsey allotments project
The project brings wider benefits, too. Alan Carter says older people in nearby bungalows are supporting the young gardeners by offering equipment to them. One woman donated a big shed after her husband passed away, "You can't put a price on bringing young and old together, they probably wouldn't speak to each other otherwise. It breaks down barriers."
The BBC is encouraging you to get involved in your local environment through our Breathing Places campaign.
If you'd like to find out more about how to get an allotment or volunteer with a local environmental project near you call our CSV Action Desk on 0114 267 5444 or e-mail us to firstname.lastname@example.org
last updated: 01/05/2008 at 12:47