An allotment is defined as a plot of land rented by an individual for growing vegetables or flowers, but allotments are much more than that: they are places full of community spirit, places where people can feel fulfilled by growing their own produce, places to cultivate and care for the environment and natural wildlife. Amanda West, in Broadbridge Heath is very passionate about the potential allotments have hence why she is in the process of developing an allotment for the youth in the Broadbridge Heath area. But how did the idea for this project begin?

‘From an early age, I was always involved in being in the garden,’ Amanda said, sharing how her family taught her to respect wildlife and helped her learn how to grow fruit and vegetables. As an adult, she has been into local schools to start gardening clubs and encourage children to grow their own food, to cook and eat. In addition, she has been able to show young people how wildlife can be something that supports mental wellbeing. This, and her belief (stemming from her Christian faith) that the world should be treated with respect and that the ecological problems now facing society today can be helped, led to her idea to have a youth allotment. This allotment would encourage children to take care of wildlife like pollinators as well as understand the process of growing flowers and food.

On the 22nd of June 2023, Amanda was allocated a plot for the children’s allotment in Broadbridge Heath, and since then, has prepared the plot, which was originally ‘knee high in weeds and stones’, by putting cardboard over it, putting over 200 bags of compost on it, and covering it up for the winter months. Amanda is working with St. John’s Church and the wider Broadbridge Heath community to put a team together. She says that now these wet winter months are over, and spring is beginning, the team can develop the plot. So far, they have added a pond and structured some raised beds, using principles of reusing and recycling. They have also begun thinking about repurposing items like a picnic table that can be used for children to pot plants on or do arts/garden science activities on. Currently, they have sourced these repurposable items for free from people who no longer have a use for them.

Amanda’s mission is to empower children to understand that they can do positive things for the environment and can have access to resources to learn about this through the youth allotment. She said, ‘I’m really excited to see this vision developing until we reach a point where young people can participate and hopefully understand that they can make a positive difference to their natural world’. Although it is a church supported space, the allotment will be for anyone who wants to be involved in it and Amanda is hopeful that shortly, it should be ready so that the youth can get involved.