First grant in Sidbury group’s 68-year history leaves allotment holders feeling flush

Sidmouth Town Council chairman Jeff Turner with the Sidbury Allotment Association's John Lamb and Sa

Sidmouth Town Council chairman Jeff Turner with the Sidbury Allotment Association's John Lamb and Sarah Voss - Credit: Archant

A £500 grant will give members of a green-fingered village group some welcome relief.

A £500 grant will allow members of a green-fingered village group to build a dry composting toilet.

The town council cash is believed to be the first external investment Sidbury Allotment Association has received since it formed in 1949.

The facility will be constructed in a shed-like structure and be ‘self-consuming’, meaning all users need to add is some sawdust or wood ash after each use.

John Lamb, who chairs the association, said: “We are extremely grateful for the grant. We keep rent to a reasonable [rent] level so nobody feels excluded, but we don’t have enough coming in for a project like this, which is a major capital outlay.

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“We look forward to starting work as soon as we can and hope to finish it late in the summer. There’s a good philosophy on the allotments. There’s always someone advice or extra help. If someone’s suffering with their back, someone else will always pitch in.”

Vice-chairman Sarah Voss said allotments elsewhere, including in Sidmouth, tend to be owned by local authorities and this can be restrictive. In contrast, the Sidbury association’s 20 plots in Ridgeway are owned by the Cave family.

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“We are entirely responsible for what happens on the site – we are in complete control,” said Sarah. “I think we could be a great model for similar projects elsewhere. We are passionate about gardening and about allotments in particular. They are healthy and great for people’s happiness and wellbeing.”

About a third of the association’s allotment holders are women. It prioritises people in the village, but is open to the rest of the parish if demand is low.

The Sidbury Allotments Association was one of 24 groups in the parish to share grants from Sidmouth Town Council totalling £15,100 this year. The recipients were invited to address members at the annual assembly in Sidbury Village Hall to say how they plan to spend the cash.

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