They are some of the oldest garden plants in the UK, Dating back nearly 180 years ago, when a young Queen Victoria was on the throne. But the future of the historic site in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire is in doubt to sell because of the plans of the owner, the Church of England, the land to a developer for housing.
The move of the diocese of Coventry village residents, their families tend to have the seven-acre plot of land for generations, horrified, and provoked anger in the vegetable beds of Wellesbourne.
Anne-Marie Ortu. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
“It is very bitter, because the Church is meant to be, the promotion of community and inter-life work alongside each other, feed themselves, and the General harmony,” said Anne-Marie Ortu, 47), the Secretary of the Wellesbourne allotment gardens Association. “What you suggest, share our community.”
The small gardens, 97 gardener, born in 1841, and described by enthusiasts as one of the most historically significant properties in the UK. The National Agricultural workers Union, the village was founded in 1872, is one of the first recognised agricultural trade unions.
The small gardens have hosted BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and offer their own shop, selling gardening gloves, sticks, and fertilizer. The members claim that the action produces enough vegetables and to eat a fruit, more than a 10 Wellesbourne, with 7,000 inhabitants.
But the development of hundreds of homes in the vicinity, as well as the plans for the 50 houses for the allotment site has added to the villagers ‘ concerns, Wellesbourne is affected unduly by the national real estate crisis.
A Scarecrow, tends to his work in the sun on Wellesbourne allotments. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
There are also plans for the construction of hundreds of houses in the vicinity. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
“Immediately I thought, I hope we don’t move,” said George Blaylock, 86, of the beans a break from the uprooting to the plot he has tended for 40 years. “What is the effect on my wife? What am I going to do? It is the only thing I’m capable of.”
Blaylock’s daughter, Georgina Halford, 59, said her father was sick last year, and the allotment was to anchor a rescue for him. “This is Paradise,” she said. “It gives him a purpose in life. I don’t think that we could start again [elsewhere].”
To relieve the Church of England under pressure to help some of its 105,000 hectares, to solve the chronic shortage of affordable housing. His property holdings were estimated to be nearly 2 billion by the end of 2015, almost a third of the £6.7 bn he is in possession of assets. Last year, the Church of £17m value of their “strategic country portfolio sold”, but it was driven by housing charities to do more.
The diocese has said, it is an alternative allotment sites, but many gardeners have said that they are too old to start again, and that those who have spent thus would lose a small fortune on their plots of land. Pat McDonaugh, 73, share a garden plot with her siblings, she inherited from her father.
“A lot of people here are older people, and when we moved, I don’t think you would have the time or the energy to start another plot everything again,” she said.
An estimated 130 villagers attended the recent parish Council meeting, concern on the plans. The majority of the anger was directed at the diocese, was accused of entering secret talks, the construction of 50 houses on the land without consultation with the allotment club.
Terry Welch, 72, who has said a plot of land for seven years, he was disgusted by “absolutely”, that they faced to be turfed by the Church. “The Church,” he said. “Do you want the money?”
Nesli Knight, 45, began their 15-Meter (50ft) plot six months ago with her nine-year-old son, who takes the local C of E primary school. “In school, my son is told how important the crop is, in search of plants, and the environment – and then you do this? For me, this is all greed,” she said. “I think we cry from our eyes, when it is taken away from him.”
Nesli knight and her son, Arda. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
Colin Griffin, a plot-holder for more than 40 years. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
The village, in the vicinity of Stratford-upon-Avon, has already hundreds of homes in the last few years, as part of a district-wide plan for the construction of 565 new homes each year until 2031. The construction boom has troubled the village residents, who say the school is almost is oversubscribed and that the GP is surgery at the “break”.
“It’s a town than a village is more,” complained Keith Russell, 67, who has run A&K Russell butchers in the village for 40 years. The small gardens provide a lot of older people “a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” Russell said, and offers a healthy alternative to iPads and video games for young budding gardeners.
A spokesman for the diocese of Coventry, said: “Any application that is provided would be for the planning depends on suitable alternative land for allotments, to the end that the diocesan Board of Finance agent already in contact with the Wellesbourne allotment gardens Association.”
A spokeswoman for Stratford-on-Avon district council said it had still not planning to get application for the site. She said the country had not been identified as a priority for the house-building meant that the application was “to be less and less likely” admitted to.