What: Mexborough Allotments makeover
Where: Adwick Road, Mexborough, S64 0AZ
Mexborough Allotments makeover
Dozens of projects applied for the chance to turn a patch of derelict, unloved land into something wonderful...
...but it was Mexborough Allotments on Adwick Road which was chosen to be transformed into a BBC 'Breathing Place' for people and wildlife.
The site is now being looked after by pupils from Windhill Primary School in Mexborough. In October 2008 at the time of writing, the raised beds and the planted areas were growing well and there are figs growing in the polytunnel.
This is how Mexborough Allotments - previously a target for vandals, arsonists and drug users - looked in May 2008 shortly before the start of the makeover.
Mexborough Allotments, May 2008
Neil Grant, BBC Radio Sheffield garden expert, put the plan together. This is his vision for the allotment transformation. The design included a sensory garden and butterfly area, bird and bat boxes, an outdoor classroom, and flower and vegetable beds.
June 2008 - the transformation
Hundreds of people turned out in the sunshine to help the Springwatch SWAT team on 7-8th June 2008. They transformed the derelict allotment site into a brand new nature garden.
Over 230 volunteers took part over the weekend to transform the site, under the supervision of John Lewney from BTCV [British Trust for Conservation Volunteers].
Mexborough Allotments, June 2008
At the end of day two when all the work was completed, the volunteers were treated to a barbeque and live music on the allotment site.
This is how the new allotment site looked after its first summer. To see more photos of the makeover at Mexborough, click on the link below.
Mexborough Allotments, October 2008
Dozens of organisations applied for the BBC Breathing Places makeover for their sites. A shortlist was drawn up and in April 2008 the finalists pitched to a panel of judges made up of BBC Radio Sheffield's gardening expert Neil Grant, Sunday Breakfast's Dean Pepall, Action Desk producer Andy Kershaw and Sue Pearson, the Deputy Regional Manager of BTCV.
The Adwick Road Allotment site in Mexborough is run entirely by volunteers from the Mexborough Allotments Society, which was given £39,000 by the Big Lottery Fund to spend on improving water systems, paths and access to the site, in addition to raising a further £40,000 for security fencing and other improvements.
Julie Thompson from Mexborough Allotments Society made her pitch to the panel.
"I was chuffed and delighted to find out we were chosen for this - especially when I saw the other finalists and how well prepared they were.
"We have no money but we have plenty of enthusiasm. This opportunity is fantastic."
SWAT 2008: Get involved!
"Over the last ten months, volunteers have transformed the allotment site from near dereliction to 149 plots fully let with a waiting list," says Julie.
"Four local primary schools have plots - the children grow vegetables and then eat them at school."
In another part of the allotments is Daisy Meadows, a local community enterprise run by the Mexborough Community Partnership. Unemployed people and people with disabilities use their gardening skills in this community garden.
Julie Thompson from the Mexborough Allotments Society provided us with this list of the things which have been going on at the allotments between the finishing of the makeover in June and our return in October 2008...
Fruit and vegetables recently harvested: tomatoes, aubergines, apples, pumpkins (all of which has been taken home by local children), chillies, capsicums and strawberries. At the end of October, the volunteers planted winter crops like onions, garlic and spring cabbage.
"The whole allotment site is organic, so we were unable to spray the crops with anything," says Julie, "but it meant that caterpillars have eaten their way through broccoli and autumn cabbages. There was an influx of cabbage white butterflies during the summer. Our sunflowers have been entered into the Allotment Society Competition and other entries included best scarecrows and biggest pumpkin. The allotment also won Silver in the Community Group category of the Doncaster in Bloom competition!"
Not bad for a first few months. Let's hope the rest goes so well...