A short history of the Allotments for Horspath Project
September 2007, the Horspath webmaster received a message from a Garsington villager asking about allotments in Horspath. On enquiring around the village it was found that the land which used to have allotments on it was Glebe land in Cuddesdon Road and therefore owned by the Diocese of Oxford. This area in Cuddesdon Road had been cultivated by a local farmer after the allotments fell into disuse, but was now fallow land. The area lies to the west of existing cultivated allotments. On making further enquiries at Church House, the Diocese headquarters, the webmaster was given the name of the Glebe Land Manager at a Chartered Surveyors company in Oxford.
Between September 2007 and April 2008 there was a frequent exchange of email messages between the webmaster and the Glebe Land Manager (GLM). Just in time for the 2008 Annual Parish Meeting the GLM informed us that if six people were interested in having an allotment he would "further" the project. Thereafter a vigorous campaign was initiated by the first Horspath applicant with adverts in the Church Parish Magazine, the Village Shop, the Village Notice Board and the Horspath website. The interest was amazing, and sixteen people applied for an allotment by the end of June 2008. A further four people applied before Spring 2009.
Then followed a protracted series of email exchanges between the sixteen applicants, the webmaster and the GLM with many queries about the proposed allotment site. You can read the final set of questions from applicants and the responses from the GLM. In October 2008 the GLM informed us that the Diocese had put the reclamation of the allotment site on hold while they debated about their new policy for allotments. This was a big blow to the eager applicants and the liaising webmaster.
After waiting patiently until April 2009 for some information to trickle out of the GLM, the webmaster turned impatient and obtained the name of the Diocese Director of Glebe and Buildings from our helpful Church Warden. This direct method of attack proved most stimulating to the GLM. The information then provided, just in time for the April 2009 Annual Parish Meeting, was that the Diocese would not find funds for the reclamation of the fallow field, but if the villagers were willing to finance the work themselves then they could proceed. At the APM those applicants present were keen to go ahead. So the proposal from the Diocese was then put to all 20 applicants. Several withdrew at this point as they had waited too long for a plot, and it sounded like a lot of effort and expense.
In June and July we held site meetings so that applicants could get an idea of the size of the area and the various problems involved in reclamation. When as many applicants as possible had viewed the site with the liaising webmaster we held a group meeting in the Village Hall. A brief timetable of events is on the front page of the Allotments website.