Community helpers have rallied around after an arson attack and break-ins at a longstanding allotment society in Sheffield.
Severe damage was caused to the allotment hut run by Hagg Lane and District Gardeners’ Allotment Society in Crosspool and to the stock inside. There were also break-ins at individual sheds.
The response saw offers to help make the building secure, to fill a skip with the debris and to provide materials and repairs following the latest attack which has devastated members of the society. It was “very positive”, said society member and allotment holder Marion McDowell.
“At one point we had so many people, they couldn’t all fit in the hut. A builder and joiner dropped off wood to make the corner of the hut secure, and somebody is volunteering to do the work. We’d like to thank everybody who has helped us.”
The society, which has existed since the 1930s and has hundreds of members, runs the hut on a non profit making business as a place where gardeners can buy tools, fertilisers, seeds and compost on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
It has an ambition of raising money for a new hut, but incidents like the one last Thursday at around 11.30pm mean members have to focus on the existing one.
The threat of vandalism and theft is a constant one partly because of the size of the allotments site, between Hagg Lane and Stephen Hill. A lot of material was stolen a few years ago in a raid that must have required a van.
More recently, one allotment holder in his 80s found vegetables he had grown had been uprooted. “His allotment is his life so that upset a lot of people too,” said Mrs McDowell.
But the arson attack was a particularly bitter blow.
“When I saw the allotment society hut we run as a shop burnt to the ground I was in tears. It is so upsetting to think that somebody would set out to deliberately destroy it. We open it every weekend for allotment holders to come along and buy their supplies and to pop in for advice.
“It’s a social thing for a lot of people, so this is going to cause a lot of upset. We have lost a lot of things such as tools, seeds and equipment. People come to us from all around.”
Police are investigating, and the society is getting back on its feet, appealing for replacement items such as weighing scales. There is no electricity in the hut.
“It’s devastating,” said Mrs McDowell, aged 70. “You feel like you want to give up, but in the end you pick yourself up and start again.”