Explorations in drought resilient growing: DRY’s collaboration with the UK National Allotment Society 

One of our early collaborations in the DRY project (in 2013) was with the UK National Allotment Society (NAS).  First Allan Cavill, a font of knowledge on water efficient growing and ‘no dig’ methods, worked with us on our national stakeholder group and helped us run community workshops.  Allan has been actively promoting water efficient gardening from his many years of growing. Then we met Tom, Di and Liz who joined the conversation.  At these meetings, we shared science and stories, along with the National Allotment Society’s culture of sharing knowledge, seeds, plants and vegetables.  You can find out about our collaboration here (page 29). We ran workshops with allotment holders in the Bristol Frome and Cornish Fowey catchments to discuss their awareness of UK drought and their water practices – the implications for their water storage practices, and which crops are grown. We also explored the implications of climate change for growing on allotments and the wider culture of growing locally within communities. We blogged on the delivery of the workshops here

Sometimes we worked with a cartoonist John Elson, a great friend of the DRY project, to capture workshop events and our final conference (July 2019), with three National Allotment Society mentors participating and bringing perennial kale cuttings… 

We have also put all John Elson’s cartoons into the DRY Cartoon Bank. These include a large number of cartoons on different aspects of “growing”, and are free to use for educational purposes. 

The ‘About Drought’ video on Drought Myth #3 ‘water is infinite and free’ includes Bristol based artist and activist, Luci Gorell Barnes talking about dryness and water practices on her allotment project. Luci runs the ‘Companion Planting project’, working with migrant women in Bristol. Access here

DRY team members – Neil, Sarah and Sarah – wrote up their vision for the future of allotments here in the Journal ‘Water’.  Their article: “Allotments in the Future: Building Resilience to Climate Change through Improved Site Design and Efficient Water Practices” can be accessed here