St Albans Wilder Allotment Network

This is an exciting collaboration between Wilderhood Watch and six St Albans allotment sites, funded by a grant from the RHS.

Our intention is to run Wilderhood Watch projects on all participating allotments, encouraging and supporting plot holders to grow produce in a more wildlife friendly way. There are many options, including creating Pollinator Highways with a special focus on drought resistant or companion planting, or modifying our Toad Road project to concentrate on creating sustainable water sources and digging dragonfly ponds.

We’ll also be involving the key streets which run between our allotments by finding residents who would be willing to coordinate a Wilderhood Watch project. They will be well supported by all of the organisations involved, and will be welcome to attend fun, informative events at their nearby allotments. Having this two pronged approach will ultimately not only create more space for wildlife within our allotments, but enable animals to travel safely between allotments via these newly linked gardens.

Before choosing which project or projects would be best suited for our allotments, we intend to carry out habitat surveys (see below) to assess what already exists on our sites. We’ve sent these out to all our plot holders, asking them what aspects of gardening for wildlife they’d particularly like us to focus on. Also, our recent wildflower, invertebrate, small mammal, bird and reptile bioblitzes will provide valuable information which we can use to inform any decisions.

Mini projects

We’re getting close to deciding what our main project will be, and in the meantime have allocated funds for smaller projects on each site. So far Sandridge rd allotments will be giving away pollinator friendly plug plants such as borage and nasturtiums, as well as planting native perennials and hedging plants. Cottonmill allotments has bought a battery powered heavy duty strimmer to help with habitat management and Folly Lane allotments has bought 17 small flat packed bird boxes. These were constructed by a small team on the weekend of February 25th and will be installed around the allotment shortly. Camp 1 allotments is also looking to add bird boxes as well as creating other useful habitats.

One of 17 bird boxes, soon to be put up around the Folly Lane allotment, supporting our WW Tweet Street project in the wider area.

Training

Margaret Harris from Cottonmill allotments is very kindly offering her expertise to help allotment holders create habitat maps of their allotment sites. This should help members to identify where the need is greatest in terms of habitat creation and enhancement.

Margaret is also encouraging allotment holders to carry out their own bioblitzes, and has created a document which explains the process. If this is something you would be interested in doing, please download the word document here:

We are approaching HMWT to see if they can deliver training to some key allotment holders on each site. These ‘gardening champions’ will then be available to advise allotment holders on how to grow produce in a wildlife-friendly way. For more information on how this scheme could work, please have a look at our Wildlife Gardening Champions page.

Allotment network

  1. Sandridge Rd Allotments including Beech Rd and Bernard’s Heath Junior School (via Marshall Ave, Sandridge Rd, Grange St, Church St and Folly Lane to the Folly Lane Allotments)
  2. Folly Lane Allotments including Goldsmith Way and Artisan Cresc (via the Victoria playing fields, Verulam Rd, London Rd, Watson’s Walk and Cottonmill Lane to the Cottonmill, Sopwell and Nunnery Allotments).
  3. Cottonmill, Sopwell and Nunnery Allotments including Old Sopwell Gardens, Prospect Rd and St Peter’s School (via the Alban Way, Orient Close and Camp Rd to the Camp Allotments)
  4. Camp Allotments including Springfield Rd (via Camp Rd, Lemsford Rd, Lancaster Rd, Sandridge Rd and Marshall Ave back to the Sandridge Rd Allotments).

If you are a plot holder on any of the participating allotments or live on any of the above streets we would love to hear from you! Please contact Nadia (nadia@wilderhoodwatch.org) or Tricia (triciagibbonsuk@yahoo.co.uk) for further details.