Horfield and District Allotment Association has hosted many visits by interested and influential visitors over the years: in March 2016 our current MP (Thangham Debbonaire) visited the allotments at the Golden Hill site.
Amongst other discussions about the allotments and about Golden Hill Community Garden, it emerged that the allotments would be 100 years old in 2017, as they were founded during WW1.
We discussed what we could do to mark the anniversary, and from that initial discussion a working-group went on to develop a proposal for a small community history project. This proposal was worked up and a bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We were delighted when our bid was accepted, especially as HLF said it was one of the best bids they had seen.
We started work on the project in February 2017. We had a lot of fun running this project – and we talked a lot to people and found out some fascinating things. This is a summary of what we did and what we found out. It’s not simply a history: we’ve tried to make it a bit more personal, and to give a snapshot of how the allotments have developed and changed over the years, right up to 2018, and perhaps what that might tell us about the next 100 years!
Allotments inspire great commitment and loyalty, which is no doubt why they’ve survived for 100 years so far. We hope you enjoy reading about our history, learn something about the local area, and are inspired to get growing yourself: we are always pleased to help newcomers.
The HDAA community history project has been very successful, not least because we have enthused a core band of volunteers who have stuck with the project over the year, and who have meet regularly as a working-group to keep up the momentum and to plan the next steps along the way.
Volunteers have spent many hours researching archived materials in the Bristol Records Office, undertaking a survey of crops grown over the years, setting up stalls at open days, taking photos and video clips to record peoples’ memories, taking part in oral history sessions, and talking about the project to other plot holders, to the press and media, and to anyone else who would listen.
As well as the things we planned to do – the Open Days where we displayed the history of the Association and where people shared their memories of the allotments; oral history sessions; a centenary leaflet and a larger more comprehensive booklet – there have been various conversations about life on the allotments One of these led to a day where volunteers collected and processed surplus apples, fruit which would otherwise have rotted on the ground: The donated apples were collected, chopped, scratted, then crushed and pressed at a community harvest weekend in autumn 2017 and resulted in delicious apple juice and the our first batch of Golden Hill cider which rest in barrels. We hope this will become an annual event and will be a legacy of the 100th anniversary project.
This is a simple guide to our 100th anniversary project – what we did and how we did it.
- Talk to people and set up a working-group – 3 -5 people is ideal – to guide the project and create accountability.
Get some volunteers on board from the start. Consult with the plot-holders, the local community and the local authority, in particularly the local records office – you will want to look at their archives. Ask for statements of support – you might want these to attract funding.
- Write a project outline on one side of A4 – this will keep you focused. Answer these questions: What do you want to do? Why? When? Where? How? Who is going to do it?
- Write a budget. You can run your project entirely with volunteers, or perhaps seek funding for a coordinator. Either way you’ll want some money for posters, leaflets etc. – we decided to seek funding and paid a co-ordinator.
- From this outline agree a project plan identifying who is doing what and when.
- If you are seeking funding, identify possible sources that match your budget. Read the guidelines thoroughly & only apply if your project clearly meets the criteria. If possible consult with a grants advisor at the funding body. Make sure you report back regularly to any funders.
- Let your community and local media know what you are doing and have open days to get people involved.
- Meet regularly to check on progress and agree next steps: keep simple notes of meetings for reference.
- If you decide to do any oral history make sure you follow the guidelines available from The Oral History Society.
- Deposit records and publications, especially any oral history recording and transcripts, with your local records office.
- At the end celebrate what you’ve done and remember to acknowledge support and thank everyone involved.