Stoke Lyne Diggers

I think the initial idea for the allotments came from a conversation that was had after the success of the new play equipment in the park. This was all thanks to the amazing effort of Ginny Duffell and I think that after this, anything seemed possible.

Of course the idea wouldn’t have got any further if it hadn’t been for Bob Wheatcroft. He knew who the field next to the playing field belonged to but even better, how to get in contact with the owner, Mr Barnett, to see if there was any hope of securing it for allotments. His initial enquiry met with a positive response and from there a very slow negotiation process commenced.

I was also spurred on because a close friend of mine had recently acquired an allotment in Launton and despite the pressure and time restraints of work and children, was thoroughly enjoying her allotment not just the digging and growing side of it but the sense of friendship and community that it had brought to her village. This was definitely what Stoke Lyne needed. Although we are a very friendly village there was no shop or school to help bring people together and I felt that we needed to build on our sense of community.

The Parish Council agreed to help with the legal side of things and one of the Parish Councillors, Hugo Brown, very kindly said that he would allow us to have a metered water supply from his horse trough in the neighbouring field.

The next hurdle was to see how many villagers would actually be interested in having an allotment, amazingly 25 people came forward and although some have had to drop out for various reasons 18 of our allotments have been taken.

I thought I would see if there was any funding available for us, I was surprised at how difficult this was. Cherwell District Council don’t have any help available for allotments and most of the charities that I contacted either said that they wouldn’t’ donate to allotments or that we would have to have been established for more than a year to be eligible. Eventually I came across the Doris Field Trust which is a local charity managed by a firm of solicitors in Headington. Doris Field was a local lady who left a considerable sum to charity. They agreed to give us a donation of £1000!

We plan to use this money for costs involved with water, fences and hedging on the Stratton Lane to help protect our crops and to keep the area safe for young children who may be on the allotment with their parents.

On the day of the Royal Wedding we had an allotment opening ceremony alongside the street party and Bob Wheatcoft made a speech and cut ribbon. People were then invited to wander around and have a look at what we have achieved so far. We are all very proud of our initial success and look forward to more people from the village joining us in the future.

Pippa Elliot