A DIVERSE community of people who are holders of allotments in Bandon are appealing for the chance to put down permanent roots.
The allotments started out 12 years ago when the group were given a section of a large county council owned site behind Coláiste na Toirbhirte.
In the intervening years its popularity has grown beyond all expectation, with membership doubling since the pandemic hit. There’s now 49 plots and for the first time, a waiting list of people looking to join.
However, as vice-chair of the group Adrienne Murphy explains, they have constant uncertainty hanging over them.
‘Three years ago we had to move everything from one end of the site to the other when the section of land we were on was given to the Department of Education – polytunnels, chicken coops, sleepers, fencing, the works.
‘The cost was enormous and for me personally was around €1,000,’ she said.
The land is registered in the ownership of The Housing Agency with the Property Registration Authority since January 2015.
And with their rolling annual lease up next April, they’re unsure of their future.
The group are fully aware of the housing crisis in the country, and the demand for land.
‘We appreciate that, but what we’d love is a permanent residence for our allotments. Most of our members live in apartments with no gardens, and this is their only way of growing flowers, veg and having a space where they can be at one with nature,’ said Adrienne.
‘I moved here in 2000 and the housing estate I live in has no green space. When the opportunity came to develop a community allotment, it was a saving grace.’
Martha Asemota, originally from Nigeria agrees: ‘It has been such a joy to be part of this group. I have learned so much and made new friends.’
Octavian and Daniela Orosan from Romania took a small plot last year: ‘If it was to close, we would be very sad because it is the only green space we have as we live in an apartment.’
Janet Lordon, committee member and supervisor said it is more than just about growing their own food.
‘It’s about the community here, the sharing of ideas, the stories, the chats, the laughs. ‘This is an inclusive space, open to individuals, families and groups.
‘We are a very diverse bunch, with members of all ages and nationalities.
‘If you don’t have a space at home to grow some of your food or you simply don’t have a garden, the allotments are an essential amenity and the site is ideally situated and is within walking distance to the town centre.’
Robertas and Margarite Jurkai added: ‘Having an allotment makes us an active part of the community. It’s a place to meet new people and make new friends. It gives us a peaceful place to escape away from busy everyday life and it’s good for our mental health and wellbeing.’
Adrienne added: ‘We have moved once and it costs money to move. We are looking for a permanent residence. ‘This is a vital amenity to the community, we need to fight to hold on to it.’
A spokesperson for Cork County Council said they don’t own the land but would engage with the group on their suggestions of alternative locations.
A statement from the Housing Agency said: ‘The land in Bandon is registered in the ownership of the Housing Agency with the Property Registration Authority since January 2015. Bandon Allotments agreed to a rolling yearly lease to facilitate the potential development of the lands for housing. The agency understands the importance of the allotments to the community. Throughout our working relationship, the agency has kept them informed of developments at the earliest opportunity and will continue to do so.’