Today was the day that the thriving community of East End gardening enthusiasts who’ve been cultivating the Manor Garden Allotments since 1924 were expecting to have to lie down in front of the bulldozers, a la Arthur Dent, in a last ditch attempt to avoid the total obliteration of their flourishing and fruitful Hackney Wick veggie paradise.
But, having failed to secure planning permission for an alternative location in Leyton (mainly due to the opposition of local residents who, unsurprisingly, were none too chuffed about losing open green space), the London Development Agency have granted the allotments a 3 month reprieve whilst they continue to tussle with the planners.
The green fingered locals, however, have potato sacks more vision and imagination than LDA and the Olympic Planning team. They’ve spotted that the huge concrete path, destined to so brutally replace their haven of Spring veglings and form a pedestrian concourse for the 4 week duration of the Games, could be diverted around its perimeter, allowing the incorporation of the allotments as a marvellously eccentric showcase for a British institution and a clear sign to the world that community, history, sustainability, biodiversity and people really do matter in London.
Whether anyone in authority will be visionary enough to admit this is a fantastic idea remains to be seen but you can make your own mind up and offer support here.
Whatever happens, bear in mind that some of these guys gardened through world war II – they won’t be giving up without a fight… or one really amazing vegetable medley.
Photo of allotment holder sowing tomato seeds while companions drink beer and converse in sign language taken at the MGA Spring Party held at the weekend to celebrate the allotments, the delayed eviction and the commencement of legal action. Courtesy of Martin Slavin.