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Barlow Road, Wednesbury

Return to surplus networkGroundwork loves the humble allotment. We know that to the untrained eye they may not look like much but there is a lot more going on than you might think.

Amongst those ramshackle sheds and hard won rows of fruit and veg, friendships form that cross cultural or age barriers. Friendships that bring people together and can create stronger communities on their way to shaping their own future. All that spadework also reaps a harvest of fresh locally grown food and fitter, healthier people. And you’ll find something else thriving in amongst the beetroot, peas, strawberries and spuds too – the confidence and experience of people on their way into employment.

Barlow Road allotments is no exception to all this, but it also has another ace up its sleeve. Young people, many with a history of offending, are turning their lives around through horticultural training run by Groundwork on the site. It’s a simple and practical solution to a complex problem but it’s working. However, the facilities on site at the moment are far from ideal. The water supply and drainage need improving, shelter is basic, facilities for some parts of the course are not present and there is no electricity. We’re already changing lives at Barlow road, just think what could be achieved if this was all improved.

Skills and materials needed:

In order to carry out the proposed improvements, subject to agreement by the Committee, we would need help and materials to:

  • Construct and site a large polytunnel 
  • Improve the flow of water and access to it within the site (for all users) 
  • Get an electricity supply connected and usable in the central portakabin 
  • Design and improve general access and paths through the site with appropriate materials 
  • Design and carry out major drainage works in conjunction with all site users and ideal for all plans to date 
  • Improved facilities - we would be looking at permission to site a portakabin and equip and furnish it for rest breaks and meetings 
  • Raised beds would need design and carpentry skills and prepared timbers to make them up and install in conjunction with the youth workers and trainees