Constable Street Community Allotment
Name of lead: Lausanne Tranter
Name of group/organisation: Constable Community Allotment / Friends of Constable Street Fields
Address: Constable Street, Hull, HU3 3DF
Open to the public? YES
What are the opening times? Always worth getting in contact first to check, as opening can be weather dependent, but in general: Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00am to roughly 4:00pm.
About Constable Street Allotment
This oasis of calm and quiet industry is based in the Boulevard area of Hull. The half-acre site is home to open veg plots, two large polytunnels, cob oven, iron-age inspired roundhouse and accessible composting toilet.
As well as an edible hedgerow, herb garden, small orchard, pond area and forest garden, there is an open meadow area that can be used for public events, teaching and workshops. They do not use chemicals or synthetic fertilisers and use permaculture principles to work in harmony with nature.
What was the inspiration at the very beginning?
Lausanne has been involved with Transition and Permaculture Hull for over a decade. Initially they took on a plot of unused land next to the Western Library on Boulevard. When the library was redeveloped, this land was taken over by Groundwork and now exists as the Western Library’s garden.
The success of that first project led to the establishment of a small garden on Constable Street as part of the play area there, which then became a children’s allotment. Unfortunately, this was prone to vandalism and theft, and the need for a more secure area to continue the work became apparent.
How has this changed over time?
A constituted group ‘Friends of Constable Street Field’ was formed, and an approach was made to Hull City Council to develop a derelict area next to the field that had been used to store building contractor’s equipment. As it was already fenced, it provided the necessary security to be able to set up an allotment. The council were happy to oblige as the land had no further use, and gave them the keys to the gates. They have now been working on this site since October 2015, turning the disused half-acre site into a productive area growing fruit and vegetables. Approximately one year into the project, John Pickles joined Lausanne and provided much needed support and advice in developing the allotment into a multi-use space with a variety of different growing projects.
As a community allotment, it has been host to many events, including the annual Seed Swap and Hull Feastival. The meadow area is large enough to take small marquees, and has hosted music by Tenfoot Ukes and The Beats Bus during community open days. The focus has always been on growing and sharing advice and information, as well as providing veg
boxes (for a donation) and free food to those who need it. Engagement with the local community is at the heart of the principles of the allotment and they are always willing to teach people who have an interest in growing and food production.
Did lockdown have an impact?
They welcome volunteers, but like many other groups, could not open to the public during the lockdown period which means that much of the growing year for 2020 was lost. This has coupled with unusual weather conditions to produce vegetables at points where they should be going dormant over the winter period.
Despite this, they are now open to those who are interested, but need to observe COVID-safe protocols such as the rule of 6 in order to protect everyone’s health.
Who do they engage with on a regular basis?
There are a small number of local residents who come to help out when they can, some of whom do it to benefit their physical and mental health through social prescribing.
Who would they like to engage with?
The desire now is to get more regular volunteers who can dedicate substantial time to help get the allotment back to how it was before lockdown occurred.
They would also like to see more children and young people attending, to spread the love of growing and eating different types of fruit and vegetable as well as feel they have a place they can come to that is a safe and welcoming space.
What are their aspirations for the future?
To secure continuation funding as the ultimate aim is for Constable Street Allotment to become a Permaculture Land Learning Site, and to be able to employ an assistant site manager who can work towards earning the Permaculture Design Certificate or Diploma. This would help establish the future of the allotment for future generations and be part of the sustainable food growing network within Hull.
They also want to further develop a veg box scheme that people can sign up to receive for a weekly/monthly donation. This would help cover basic running costs.