By Michael Wilson
The University’s proposal to get rid of student allotments were defeated recently, due to UCLan SU raising their concern. Green Ladder, a group within the SU focusing on sustainability and environmental issues, led the drive against the proposed shutdown, and was ultimately successful.
The 32 micro allotments were originally constructed at the end of 2014, inside the central courtyard of Whitendale halls. Students can choose to have their own allotment, or share with others, and the whole scheme is administered by Green Ladder.
Students do not need any experience or prior training in growing food or using allotments, as all training is offered free of charge.
The allotments ran without issue until just before Freshers this year, with facilities management¬ and accommodation services proposing to remove the allotments from Whitendale, due to their wish to install two large marquees in the area.
These marquees would host both the welcome process of key collection and Q&As, as well as the social activities in the evening for new students. The installation of both marquees would not have been possible, due to the size of marquees required. “There has not been any proposal to shut down the allotments”, said a University senior manager, “The proposal earlier in the year was to move the allotments to another location, at no cost to the Students Union with possible space for additional allotments if there was future increased uptake by students.”
However, according to UCLan SU, moving the allotments would equate to “destroying” them. The rationale for this is that the allotments are simple wooden structures with no lower part to keep in the soil and planting and so, if moved, all the growing taking place inside the allotments would be disrupted and likely “spread all over the floor”. This is disputed by the University, who said “Proposals for moving the allotments after the growing season had finished and all produce could be harvested was in line with the proposal to move allotments in late August.”
After discussions with both the University and the SU, it was eventually agreed that the allotments should remain in their current location, with a review to agree a mutually acceptable location in future.
This suggests that the University has future plans to move the allotments for good, but the SU remains confident that their success will endure. I’m really happy that Green Ladder have been able to fight the University on this issue and win”, said Lucy Haigh, SU Campaigns Officer, “Students benefit from having the allotments and it would be such a shame for them to have been lost. I’m sure there will be other times that this issue will come up, but as long as students keep on using and benefiting from the allotments, I’m certain they will remain exactly as they are.”