WHEN the IW Council decided to hand over responsibility for its allotments a good few years ago, many passed into the hands of parish and town councils while some went to community groups.
Those in the first category are managed by a stable organisation with a paid clerk, which makes it altogether easier. Those in the second category rely on volunteers, so you tend to have more ups and downs.
Enthusiastic people upon who the allotment community relies move on, get old or worse.
One such community group is the Vectis Road Allotment Association, affectionately known as VERA — to which I am always happy to lend a helping hand.
Situated in the heart of East Cowes, the VERA allotments offer fun, friendship, peace, tranquillity and, if you are prepared to make the effort, the opportunity to grow and eat your own fantastic vegetables.
VERA was formed in 2003 to rescue the declining fortunes of the Vectis Road site. The allotments, however, have been around for much longer than that. The land was gifted to the residents of East Cowes by Queen Victoria.
VERA’s Steve Gray said: "We have 60 members at the moment. Plots range from quarter plot to full plot.
"Sizes are quarter plot of 25ft by 15ft; half plots are 50ft by 30ft and a full plot is 100ft by 30ft.
"At the moment, we have three half plots vacant due to work commitments. We have just cleared the waste ground to make way for around 20 full plots, which can be divided into quarter plots and half plots, if needed."
VERA is actively looking for new tenants for these plots, which are now ready to be cultivated, and the good news is the plots are open to anyone on the Island — not just East Cowes residents.
And they are much cheaper than most. The annual price for a full plot is just £26, half plots are £13 and a quarter plot is £6.50. Sheds are £10, a shared shed is £5 and membership is £7. The deposit of £25 is refundable when vacating a plot, providing it is left in good condition.
There is a work party every second Saturday in the month and plotholders are expected to do at least four hours a year general maintenance round the site. There is a polytunnel, water, toilet facilities, sheds, an apiary, kitchen and cooking facilities in the tea shed and communal areas too.
"We have an open day and fun day in August too, so it is a real community," said Steve.
If you are interested in a plot, you can contact Christine Cornish on 280283 for more details.