A Cookstown man has started an online petition asking Mid Ulster council to supply allotments in the town, in line with Dungannon and Magherafelt.
Michael McDonald, a keen gardener for years, said he was inspired to set up the petition and a Cookstown Community Allotments Facebook page when he realised the town had no such provision.
Hoping to rally support from other residents for a steering group, he said he has been in touch with the council’s head of parks, Nigel Hill, who was “open to the idea” and is hoping his petition will encourage council to take action.
“I was surprised to find, when I went to enquire about allotment space in Cookstown, that there was no council space allocated,” he told the Mail. “I do know from my friends in England that if there’s demand for space, they - by law - have to provide it, but that’s not actually law here.
“I just thought the best way to go about it, was to see if there was any interest and I set up the petition.”
So far the petition, which is hosted on Change.org, has won the support of almost 40 signatories - but Mr McDonald said he is hoping for 100.
I think it would be great for Cookstown, bringing both sides of the community together - a supporter
“The more that we can get to sign it the better,” he added.
And as for the proposed allotments, Mr McDonald sees them as a space not just for growing plants, but the community as well.
“I’m a firm believer in allotments bringing a lot more than just growing fruit and veg,” he explained. “It’s a space for people to come and socialise, share ideas, share growing tips [and] somewhere all sections of the community can get involved.
“There still are divisions, not just in Cookstown, but all over and something like this will go someway to helping that.”
A spokesperson for Mid Ulster council said: “While there are currently no council-managed allotments in Cookstown, we are aware of the interest in the local community and have already indicated to the new group being formed locally that we are happy to work with them to explore opportunities.”
The petition can be found at www.change.org/p/mid-ulster-council-nigel-hill-provide-space-for-allotments-in-cookstown
Support for the petition
An online petition calling on Mid Ulster council to provide allotments in Cookstown has already attracted support both in the town and further afield.
“I’m signing because we have allotments in Castledawson and they were best thing ever done,” said a Castledawson woman.
Another supporter added: “I think it would be great for Cookstown, bringing both sides of the community together. For all new and old patrons that do not have enough space in their garden and want to grow their own fruit and veg... Come on Cookstown [now Mid Ulster] council it will be a win-win for everyone.”
Others who signed the petition said they would like a space in which to teach their children how to grow their own produce, whilst providing the elderly with a hobby and giving people a chance to tend the land - “as gardening has been proven to improve health”