London Olympics vs. Local Food: Allotments Under Threat


As we reported on here, the 2012 London Olympics are making some big claims about their sustainability. The city made sustainability a key part of its bid for the games, and Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, has stated his intention that the games will help London become a greener metropolis. However, a row is brewing over the planned destruction of a historic allotment site to make way for the Olympic Park. The plot holders of Manor Gardens allotments have set up a website with pictures and history of this site, and have also launched a petition to ask the government to intervene (only UK residents or citizens can sign). The London Development Authority argues that the development is unavoidable, and that they will work hard to relocate the site. They are also promising that allotments will be provided for in the legacy of the games. The campaigners, however, say that this is not good enough:

"Even if it were possible to uproot and replant such an established community, the success of obtaining the proposed relocation site is in doubt. Our members and many local people believe that to bulldoze the gardens to build a footpath would be to squander an opportunity to showcase a uniquely British institution and an example of the philosophies espoused in the London Food and Biodiversity Strategies and the Sustainability aims of the the 2012 bid."

For those of you who don't know, allotments are areas of land set aside for growing food that local authorities are mandated by law to provide. As we reported here, the concept dates back to the early 18th Century as a response to urbanization and the industrial revolution. While allotments fell out of favor for a while, an increased interest in organics and sustainable food has seen a huge surge in their popularity in many areas. It seems a shame then, not to incorporate the allotments somehow in the Olympic plans, and show visitors to London the contribution that such sites can make to urban sustainability.

[Written by: Sami Grover]

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