Shepherds Hill Allotments, Crouch End, North London
Shepherds Hill allotments was first laid out shortly after the first world war and lies on the southern flank of the swathe of playing fields and sports clubs known as Shepherds Cot, bordered to the west by Queen’s Wood. It occupies a 6-7 acre strip of the hillside, stretching from Montenotte Road, Crouch End, at one end up to Priory Gardens, Highgate, at the other, with our southern perimeter punctuated by the little park known as Shepherds Hill Gardens. It is one of the largest of Haringey council’s 27 allotment sites, comprising 214 plots, the large majority of which are half plots (five poles, or rods, each one comprising about 125 square metres).
Although the site has seen many changes over the past 15-20 years, particularly in the social profile of its 193 tenants - and is facing up to more change yet with the imminent prospect of devolution from the council - it remains an oasis of peace and tranquility and a haven for inner-city wildlife. And we've got beekeepers and chickens too.
Vehicle access is very limited - meaning a fair few of us keep fit by battling up muddy footpaths with heavily-laden wheelbarrows - and it is not bordered by any main roads. Were it not for the ubiquitous background roar of distant aeroplanes and the occasional passing emergency siren, one would never know one was standing near the heart of a big city at all. And that’s how we like it.
The waiting list has never fallen below 100 people so far this century (it was closed for several years due to excessive demand) but the wait has only very recently exceeded three years. However, time marches on. For those joining the queue now, it is likely to be a minimum of five years, depending on turnover. Places in the queue are not transferable and sub-letting is a breach of the tenancy agreement.