Cambridge Allotments 2000


There has been little centrally funded promotion of allotment facilities in Cambridge City since 'Dig for Victory' (1939). This campaign will redress some of that. It is an initiative coinciding with a widespread modern revival of interest in allotment gardening. It will build on the work of the city's allotment societies with a high profile, professional quality campaign.

Allotments and Local Agenda 21

Allotments could almost have been designed to fulfil all five of the Sustainable City objectives!

  1. Social Equity: enables poorer people to have a healthy hobby and supplement diet with high quality, fresh produce (organic if they choose). Very low cost of plot rental (typically around 15/year) means allotments are affordable for most people.
  2. Participation: Allotment societies are groups with a political as well as social function. The fast growing Cambridge Allotments Network (includes tenants without a local allotment society) is building links between plot holders across the City and beyond.
  3. Built Environment: modern, affordable housing features small gardens, if any. Allotments offer sizeable gardens for residents.
  4. Environmental Quality: The open spaces of allotment sites (100 acres in Cambridge) make a valuable contribution to a green urban environment. Sites are highly bio-diverse already and with organic methods increasingly popular this should improve further. This will be formally supported by inclusion of the City's allotment sites in the Habitat Action Plan for the county's urban areas.
  5. Natural Resources: Produce grown on the City's allotments is the most local food supply possible. Thus it helps reduce 'food miles'. Allotment holders are enthusiastic recyclers: already large scale composting is happening and there is scope for further composting initiatives. Hazel coppicing on allotments (e.g. Histon Road site) is an example of efficient land use which benefits plot holders directly (poles used instead of imported canes).

Increasing take-up of allotments in the City will support these objectives by getting more people using this wonderful green facility. This will in turn reduce the likelihood of permanent loss of allotments for building land.

Who's who?

The campaign will be fronted by Cambridge Allotments Network (CAN), which is the public face of Cambridge Central Council of Allotment Societies (CCCAS). Promotional materials funded by this application should carry the logo of CAN as well as Cambridge City Council (CCC) and Sustainable City. Other acronyms in this document refer to: Cambridgeshire Interpreting and Translation Agency (CINTRA); National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG); Cambridge Newspapers Ltd (CNL); Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA, the leading promoter of organic gardening).


  1. Promote allotments in and around Cambridge
  2. Publicise benefits of doing a plot
  3. Publicise availability of plots locally and multilingually
  4. Support plot holders, help them to keep a plot on once started.
  5. Improve communication between plot holders
  6. Improve image of allotment gardens.
  7. Maintain and improve the environment within allotment sites, encouraging bio-diversity and organic methods.
  8. Encourage imaginative, appropriate use of difficult land within a site
  9. Target 5% overall vacancy.

How will it work?

CAN want to work towards these objectives with the specific projects below. We aim to reach potential new plot holders, especially in the areas around sites with vacancies (because such tenancies are the most sustainable), and especially those who do not read existing promotional material because it is only in English. An informative booklet will support new plot holders, while communications on site will also be improved. Stalls at fairs and the farmers market, and static displays at e.g. the library, will spread the messages of plot-availability and the joys of allotment gardening. A revival of the traditional Best Plot competition will encourage high standards and certainly appeal to older plot holders who recall the competition from decades ago. More details are on the following pages.


In terms of public perception, Cambridge Allotments 2000 runs from spring 2000 to autumn 2002 (three full growing seasons).

However the project has effectively started already, with the Farmers Market stall and promotional material produced by several of the local allotment societies. We aim to have uncultivated plots ploughed in autumn 1999, in preparation for the main thrust, with professional quality leaflets and booklet, in Spring 2000. The paper resources funded by this application last up to three years, and we've a target for vacancy rates at the end of the period stated. Items such as the display boards, notice board and site signs have a tangible lasting value, while the momentum and energy of the campaign will hopefully inspire allotment holders to continue using them.

Costs of the Project

Costs to be supported by this application are shown in red with totals in bold.

Any other contributions to the project

Partnership funding is identified mostly in terms of volunteer time, with unskilled work @ 5/hour and skilled work @ 10/hour. These amounts in blue with totals in bold.


Summary of Costs


Co-ordination 1200

Local Plot Awareness Campaign 1272 + 300

Supporting Plot Holders 1590 + 1120

Displays at Stalls and Fairs 1275 + 2175

Best Plot Competition 850 + 1220

Total: 4987 + 6015

Co-ordinating the Cambridge Allotments 2000 campaign will be done primarily by Dave Fox and Keith Jordan of CAN. This is included above as approximately 100 person hours, plus 20 hours spent drawing up this application.

The remainder of this document describes the four sub-projects in more detail with costings and some estimates shown.


Local Plot Awareness Campaign

bulletLeaflet Printing 733
bulletDesign 75
bulletLeaflet Distribution 364
bulletPosters cost included in partnership work
bulletTranslation 100

Total: 1272 Addresses objectives 1, 2, 3, 9.

Partnership Funding

CAN will issue press releases and make spokespersons available to get extra coverage in local radio and newspapers. 10 person hours @ 10/hour 100. Input for publicity materials 10 person hours @ 10/hour 100. Production and distribution of posters 20 person hours @ 5/hour 100. Total 300

Rationale & Breakdown of costs

The main leaflet distribution is intended for March or April 2000: spring is the most popular time for taking on a plot.

Leaflet Printing Several allotment societies report that leafleting is effective at getting new tenants. Local distribution is seen as important because proximity to the plot makes the tenancy more sustainable. See Vinery Road AS, Whitehill AS leaflets attached. The print run allows for 18973 copies to be distributed by Cambridge Newspapers Ltd. This figure was calculated after studying the 'Cambridge City breakdown' in CNL's media pack: we aim to concentrate leafleting in the localities of the allotment sites with vacancies. It also provides 1027 further copies for distribution by CAN at stalls and fairs. Options costed are 4 – colour, single sided, recycled paper, A4 (A5) 80-100gsm.

Quotations obtained include:

Piggot Printers 733 (592) 4-color 100gsm. Artwork supplied on disk. Run-on: 17 (10) /1000

Cambridge Pre-Press Ltd 940 (536) 4-colour 80gsm.

Design Should be integrated with booklet and web site

Quotation from Cambridge Pre-Press Ltd: simple leaflet would need approx. 60-90 minutes work @50/hour.

Leaflet Distribution: Traditional Insertion in Cambridge Weekly News, specified areas. This amounts to 18973 copies by current calculation (see document Ploughing and Leafleting 99). Targeted around sites where plots cultivated autumn 1999. Cost of this distribution is 364 (inc. VAT).

Posters Due to the small print run, these can best be printed by CAN's home PCs. Distribution via local CAN contacts.

Translation Whilst allotment sites are ethnically diverse already, we believe there may be large numbers of people unaware of allotments simply because current promotional material is only in English. (Example discovered at Farmers Market 22/8/99.) We would like to identify which languages would be appropriate targets in Cambridge. The leaflet above would be the first thing to translate. Distribution F.O.C. via local CAN contacts e.g. Chinese Society meet at CRC, Kings Hedges. Assuming small print runs these translated versions can best be printed by CAN's home PCs. Translation costs 90/1000 words/language (source: CINTRA). Leaflet likely to contain approximately 100 words. Target 11 languages.


Supporting Plot Holders

New allotment tenants sometimes give up after a few summery weeks of initial enthusiasm. Expensively cultivated plots quickly get abandoned and weed-covered: perhaps 50% of new plot holders don't keep their plot on. Thus we want to provide some support to help plot holders, particularly the new ones, to keep on growing. Whilst existing plot holders may not be as receptive to such advice, improved communications on site will definitely be helpful.

bulletDesign 100
bulletContent 1000
bulletPrinting and Finishing 655
bulletPackets of Seeds F.O.C
bulletDistribution 35

Other Items
bulletSite Notice Board 500
bulletSite Signs 100
bulletSubscriptions to HDRA 8 Group subscriptions @ 25 = 200

Total: 1590

Addresses objectives 2, 4

Partnership work

Content for the booklet will come from various plot holders. Some is already in progress. 100 person hours 1000. Distribution of booklets 100. Erection of signs 20 Total 1120

Rationale & Breakdown of costs

500 copies of booklet would cover, very approximately, a 10% turnover in existing tenancies over three years plus some take-up of existing vacancies. It is terribly difficult to be precise about these numbers given the lack of centralised statistics on tenancies.

Content ideas: Contacts: local & national allotment organisation, seed supplies, HDRA; Guidelines – the dos and don'ts of allotment gardening; Map showing where the sites are in Cambridge; 'Enjoying an allotment with children' being written by Tim Love (Trumpington AS); 'Composting – how to make compost, where to get the ingredients, troubleshooting'; 'Wildlife in and around your allotment site'; 'Coping with weeds'; 'Managing surplus: planning your crops, preserving excess, giving it away'; 'Best plot competition'; we can probably get seed suppliers to give us free packets for distribution with the booklet.

The booklet will be A5 (for portability). 4-color card cover with 12 B+W inside pages (i.e. 1xA4 card plus 3xA4 plain paper, folded and saddle stitched with 2 wires). Options costed are print runs of 250 (500)

Design It is likely that the artwork should be done professionally. Integrated with leaflet and web site. Allow 2 hours @50/hour.

Printing and Finishing Quotations were obtained from:

Piggot Printers 619 (run-on 36/250) no VAT. Artwork supplied on disk. 4-colour cover.

Cambridge Pre-Press Ltd 550 (715). Artwork supplied on disk. 4-color cover.

Larman Printers 275.00 (345.00). All recycled. Artwork supplied on disk. 2-colour cover.

Distribution to new plot holders. Let's assume most by hand, 25% by post. @ 0.25 per copy (second class post plus envelope)

On site, the ability to exchange information with other plot holders is important (anything from advertising site meetings and the best plot competition to the availability of spare seedlings) so we'd like to provide a new notice board at one site.

Most allotment sites are fairly well hidden – inability to actually find a site is the first hurdle new plot holders need to overcome! In many cases, a simple durable sign at the roadside end of an access track or footpath will help plot holders, their friends and other visitors to locate the site.

Many new plot holders favour organic growing. Funding a group subscription to the HDRA for one year for each society will help them to achieve this. This is in line with the CCC's desire for the allotment societies to promote organic growing. HDRA News (quarterly) contains information about organic growing, research, members experiments, access to experts. Membership offers discounts off Chase Organics seeds. Addresses objective 7.


Displays at Stalls and Fairs

bulletDisplay Boards 1000
bulletBanner 75
bulletStall Rental 200
bulletStaffing, build up & break down 2175