Ginsters, a food manufacturing company famous for its pies and pasties, has set up workplace allotments where employees can grow their own vegetables. The site at the Ginsters factory in Callington, Cornwall was first allocated three years ago but an allotment committee has recently been formed, with the help of Ginsters Active Workplace co-ordinator Kate Barker, to help co-ordinate the plots and plot-holders, arrange events and oversee the site.
The 36-plot site is a two-minute walk from the Ginsters factory and the company provided the land and a water-tap.
The site is a good example of the challenges that workplace allotments can face and of the need for co-ordination to make the most of such sites. Andy Sayers, a driver for Ginsters, is one of three members of the inaugural committee and has held a plot since the beginning.
Andy said: “The people who initially helped set up the site have since left Ginsters and there hasn’t been anyone administering it so it’s been a bit of a free-for-all. At the beginning of 2013 there were 20 plots empty out of the 36 available, mainly from people having left the company. We’ve now filled 13 of these again. We’ve renumbered the plots and puts signs on them all and asked plotholders to contact us and let us know if they don’t want their plots any longer.”
The empty plots posed other problems for the committee as some had been left with compost bins and netting still up which had to be removed. The committee allocated one plot where people could leave any rubbish, and two for compostable material, so that it can be dealt with jointly.
The allotments have also faced particular challenges due to the shift patterns at the Ginsters site. Andy, who works for the distribution arm of the company, said: “Pretty much everyone in distribution does 12-hour shifts and often they don’t get time to go out to tend the plots. I actually work in Callington so I can walk up the road and go to the plot on my days off.”
Despite the problems the committee has faced, Andy enjoys working on his plots and is keen to develop the site and make it a real success in the future.
He said: “It’s probably one of my main hobbies. I do enjoy it – seeing the successes and saving money on veg. This year I’ve done particularly well with potatoes, courgettes, squash and iceberg lettuce. The three of us on the committee would like to get more going on up there because there is a brick barbecue and seating. We’ve put up a noticeboard now that more people are taking up plots and we want to run some events to try and get people talking.”
The committee has also put together a set of allotment rules that people can sign up to, so that there is clarity over the way the site is used.
Tips & Advice
Andy said: “My tips for other groups wanting to set up workplace allotments would be to have a committee from the start. Then it’s clear where people can go to for advice or if they no longer want to use their plot. Also if it’s a service provided for free, as it is at Ginsters, you need to make sure people still value it and are willing to put the effort in to make the site work for everyone.”
For advice and further information on setting up workplace allotments, contact Rebecca Marshall via email@example.com or tel: 0117 9669491.