A little green oasis amongst the concrete – Happy 7th Birthday to the 3rd Kingston Scout HQ allotment!
People walking into Kingston, or visiting the 3rd Kingston Scout Headquarters have been privy to a small, sustainable green space in the mainly concreted surrounding area.
This green space is the allotment, which is managed within the grounds of the Scout Headquarters.
Originally this area was used by a nursery, and was dominated by wood chip, slides and a sandpit.
However after the nursery closed the area became overgrown, and it was suggested that the area be used as an allotment. A couple of people from the neighbouring roads took up the proposed.
Hard work was required as there was no depth of soil, and a lot of rocks, stones and weeds. Compost and manure had to be brought, and wood put round the edges to keep the soil in. From then, a successful allotment has been running for 7 years; despite being a small area, it is very productive. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are grown in the allotment, from sunflowers to sweetcorn, from peas to pumpkins and from beetroot to beans, just to mention a few.
The allotment is also very sustainable; garden rubbish, such as leaves, is composted and then put back onto the soil (unfortunately the same cannot be said for beer cans and glass bottles which are often thrown over). Where possible, the use of pesticides and chemicals is avoided. 
It’s in a sunny, sociable position, and those walking past the allotment are often interested to find out what’s growing, and comment on the size of some produce.
Veronica Birley, a local resident who looks after part of the allotment, enjoys talking to onlookers about gardening. One of her favourite things to do is “to give away fresh vegetables to anyone walking past, especially little children”. She says that “everyone always feels happy and uplifted  to see the veg growing”. Veronica also talks about how her grandchildren love to go straight down to the allotment whenever they visit before going into her house. This raises important points about the benefits of engaging both children and adults with the outdoors in an increasingly technology-centred society, and seeing how nature works.
Through speaking with the residents who use the allotment, and despite only being a small patch of land, it’s become clear that the allotment offers a lot of satisfaction both to those who tend it and those who view it.
This is a good example of a model that could be used anywhere; with just a bit of enthusiasm and commitment, the rewards are far-reaching.