An Introduction to the allotments and our society
Craven Vale and Whitehawk Hill are two neighbouring allotment sites, consisting of 337 plots, on the urban fringe of East Brighton. The two sites are a beautiful place to garden with amazing views across to the sea. The Neolithic Whitehawk Camp is adjacent and the allotments are important for wildlife, especially as they abut the ancient chalk grasslands of the South Downs.
There have been allotment gardens on the hill for at least 150 years; Whitehawk Hill Allotments have been on the site since at least the 1870s whilst Craven Vale moved to the current site in the 1950s when its previous location was redeveloped as housing. Over the years there have been various changes; for example, in late 2009 the local council opened extra plots on both the sites to alleviate the long waiting lists. The newly allocated plots had been used previously, as evidence of greenhouses and other structures has been unearthed.
There are plots used by local groups, notably the Whitehawk Community Food Project, founded in 1996, which has regular drop-in volunteer days so people can learn about sustainable food growing.
In 2014, a possible threat to build housing on part of the site brought together plotholders to fight off the danger. Since then, the threat is still under the radar but the ‘Save our Allotments’ movement was instrumental in bringing people together, resulting in the Craven Vale and Whitehawk Hill Allotments Society (CVWHAS) and The Hub, a location for all plot holders to come together on a regular basis. Plot holders unanimously agree it is a magical place to garden and hope these sites continue long into the future.
(This article was written by Jenny Embleton and was originally for use by the National Allotment Society (NAS), Annual Report.)