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24 June 2007

One Tree Hill Allotments – The True Story

We always like seeing SE23 get the recognition it deserves in the media. But when ‘Time Out’ magazine featured the One Tree Hill Allotments (Tree Amigos, February 21) there was some unhappiness about the way the journalist portrayed the plot holders. So, Ian White, the vice chair of the One Tree Hill Allotments Society, thinks it’s time to set the record straight.

When ‘Time Out’ came to the One Tree Hill allotments, it was to attend the Wassail - a festival held in January in praise of next year's apple crop. But the article seemed to portray the good denizens of Forest Hill and Honor Oak as hippies, crusties and New Age travellers. Now, we may be an exceptionally enlightened and liberal community, but the journalist did exercise a large degree of artistic license.

The allotments are close to Honor Oak Park Station. It’s a challenging area being clay and on a hill. It covers nine acres and holds 70 plots. Over the last few years, the very active committee has cleared large amounts of rubbish, created better access, reinstated derelict plots and created new ones. The result is a thriving community with plots fully occupied and a waiting list. Many think of flat caps and 'Dig for victory' but members are from all walks of life, across the age, cultural and ability (both physical and gardening) spectrum. You will see a variety of gardening styles, from formal regimented rows to Cottage Style gardens. Organic/sustainable activities are encouraged as are measures to support wildlife through set aside areas, tree planting, bird and bat boxes and a number of ponds. This has resulted in a wide variety of fauna and flora.

Plot-holders share and take part in communal tasks and hold events including barbecues, Apple days, Green Man Fayres and Bonfire night.

You may now understand why some members were annoyed at the incorrect picture ‘Time Out’ portrayed. The magazine focused on one aspect of the activities of the Permaculture group who rent just one plot. Even more frustratingly, ‘Time Out’ could not get the musical instrument right in the article. It isn't a Tambourine, but a Bodhran!

The site is open to the general public on certain days and guided walks are often organised. The next open day is on Sunday 8th July 12-6pm. You can get more information here or email Ian White at contact@onetreehillallotments.org.uk

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