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By Liz Norbury, St Ives Local

On hot summer days in St Ives, allotment holders relish the opportunity to escape from the crowds to spend some time in their plots perched high above the town. Whether they go to work on the land, or relax in the sun and enjoy the panoramic views of St Ives Bay, there’s nowhere better to be at this time of year. 

It is almost ten years ago now that St Ives Town Council entered into a lease with St Ives Allotment Association for the use of four acres of former arable farmland at Trowan, part of the West Penwith Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Four enthusiastic would-be allotmenteers then created 56 plots of 10m by 12m with rope and wooden pegs, and dug a borehole from which water was pumped into a tank into which  people could dip their watering cans.

Although Trowan is slightly off the beaten track, it can be reached on foot, by car or by bicycle, and the site is only a short walk from a bus stop.  

St Ives allotments courgetts

The southern side of the site is sheltered by Rosewall Hill, whereas windbreaks are often necessary in the more exposed plots nearer the sea. But the Trowan soil is very fertile, and almost anything can be grown there: rhubarb and raspberries, purple sprouting broccoli and perpetual spinach, courgettes, and cut flowers. One man once grew a 50ft cabbage, and two of his fellow allotmenteers had to help him dig it out of the ground. He then put it on a trailer and drove it to Malvern Horticultural Show, where it came third in its class — a good result in a national event. 

If you’re interested in attempting to emulate this feat, or simply wish to grow some delicious fruit and vegetables for family meals while enjoying some exercise in the fresh air, contact St Ives Town Council to put your name on the waiting list for an allotment. Full-size plots cost £60 per year, and half-size plots are £35. For more information, call 01736 797840, or visit stivestowncouncil-cornwall.gov.uk/apply-for-an-allotment/

As the council says: “Allotment sites help to encourage a sense of community and help maintain the local environment. With plots able to be worked by friends and family, they’re a great chance to share learning and to get children involved in finding out where their food comes from. Our existing allotmenteers are a friendly bunch — new plot holders have been pleased with the advice and help they get from neighbouring allotment gardeners.”

Comments from allotment holders

“It can take you three-quarters of an hour to get to your plot from your car because you stop and chat. People are always giving you produce from their plots. That’s rather nice.”

“The good thing about Cornwall is that if you poke a stick in the ground, it will grow. And where else could you get a view like this?”

“It’s good exercise, especially in the winter when you have to do the digging. And it’s a joy to be up here on a sunny day.”


• Trowan allotmenteer Steve McIntosh is writing a blog, A Year on The Allotment. Follow him on Facebook

St Ives allotments beds