assorted lotty pics

About Us

Seafordians have enjoyed the benefits of allotments for over 110 years. Various sites have been used and the number of individual plots has varied, the highest being when the country was “Digging for Victory” during and after the Second World War. In common with most areas the popularity of allotments went into a steep decline which has only recently been reversed. Although we now have a waiting list for plots, some of our longer serving members can still remember when we suffered from vacant, overgrown plots and no takers.

distibution hut

The current Sutton Drove site was opened in 1923 when the annual rent was set at one shilling (5p) per rod. In 1947 the site provided 162 plots (of the total 243 in the town at that time).

A traditional plot is about 10 rods, which is about 20m x 10m, or 60’ x 30’. This was originally set as the area which should provide a family of 4 with enough fruit and vegetables for a year. Today with a shift in emphasis away from growing basic essential crops to ‘leisure gardening’ many people find it easier to manage a half-plot. This has the added advantage of allowing more people to get their hands dirty and to reduce the length of the waiting list. Today we have 209 active members cultivating 189 plots.

The overall management of the allotments has changed over the years, but in 2000 the responsibility was transferred from Lewes District Council to Seaford Town Council, which in turn agreed a 5 year self-management agreement with our Society. That agreement was renewed in 2005 and is due for renewal again later in 2010.

plot greenhouse

By managing the site ourselves we can help the Council reduce its administrative costs and ensure our members are fully consulted about all decisions. The day to day work is undertaken by a voluntary committee which is elected annually at the Society’s AGM. We are members of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG).

Our overall site is roughly divided into two parts: about two thirds is on a west facing slope, whilst the rest is generally flat at the top of the hill. During the autumn and winter south-westerly gales, the site can feel exposed (and plotholders are advised to make sure everything is well pegged down) but it also enjoys an open aspect with good light levels, and views across to Newhaven Harbour and the sea.

Thanks to careful investment in facilities over the past few years, the site has a good secure fence and locked gates, and a distribution hut where members can buy a range of allotment essentials, (and in the autumn, order seeds at a greatly reduced cost under the NSALG scheme). Whilst members are encouraged to harvest rainwater, mains water is provided to a number of static tanks located across the site and we have a site toilet. A Social Sub-Committee also organises a number of fun competitions during the year, and our members are often successful at the Annual Show run by the Seaford and District Horticultural Society.

Most people visiting for the first time are impressed by the overall appearance of the site and the quality and range of produce being grown – that does not happen by chance, but is down to the hard, but rewarding work put in by our members. As on most allotment sites, there are a range of views about the ‘best’ way to grow crops – some of our members follow an organic route whilst others are happy with a sensible use of approved chemicals; some use fertilisers to feed their plants whilst others believe the priority should be to feed the soil. Our experience has been that the key is to respect other people’s views: argue about issues and techniques in a friendly way, but to remember that we share similar aims – to get the best out of our plot; to grow and harvest fresh fruit and veg; to try new or traditional varieties not available in the supermarkets; to reduce food miles, and enjoy a better and healthier lifestyle!

David Swaysland

SALGS Chairman 2010 - 2014