Cardiff allotments win ‘Community Transformation’ award


The transformation of a Cardiff allotment site, that two years ago was almost completely hidden behind a wall of brambles and is now home to newly created ‘starter gardens,' accessible plots, a community garden, orchard, and education space, has won a ‘Community Transformation' award.

Back in 2021, plot holders at Pengam Pavilion allotments on Rover Way took it upon themselves to clear an area of the site that had become so overgrown with brambles that according to allotment association member John Cook, as he points to a large oak tree standing tall amongst 21 newly created ‘starter gardens' designed to encourage gardeners who may have struggled with a larger standard plot due to health or mobility issues, "you couldn't even tell there was a tree there."

"It was an eyesore from the road," confirmed site secretary Tracey Woodberry, "and we just wanted to do something with it, so bit by bit we started cutting away."

With the clearance work completed, the association invited Cardiff Council to see the work they'd done and share their plans for the site, which is in one of the top 10% most deprived areas in Wales. "They were so impressed," said Tracey, "I don't think they could believe it."

At that point the Council put the association's plans forward for a grant from the Travis Perkins Legacy Fund, which was established as part of social value commitments secured by the Council as part of a contract awarded to the firm to supply and deliver building materials.

Martyn Piper, Account Manager for Travis Perkins, said: "The project looked great on paper, but it's when you start talking to people and you get a sense of their passion and enthusiasm, that's when you really get an understanding of how much it could mean to the community."

The end result was a £25,000 donation of building materials, equipment and labour that coupled with the hard work of the volunteers, and support from the Council, helped the transform the previously unused space.

"It's lovely to think you've done something to benefit the community," Martyn added, "and to know that months on from our donation, the journey continues and the project is getting the recognition it deserves."

That recognition came in the form of a nomination for a Tidy Wales Award but, despite the efforts of the allotment association, sitting at a table at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as the results were read out, they still had no idea they were about to be ‘Community Transformation Award Winners 2023.'

"My jaw just dropped," said Tracey, "I was gobsmacked. Honestly it was amazing, there's a lot of hard work that's gone on here and people have been so helpful, it just puts a smile on your face."

As John points out, it's not just the site that's changed, it's the community using the site as well. "Years ago it used to be all men, but now I'd say it's probably about 70% women, and we have multi-national and multi-cultural plot holders which results in a diversity of plants grown, we've got kids from the local nursery coming over to have their lunch in the wildlife garden and learn about growing. It's a real community."

Even with 30 native fruit trees bearing fruit in the orchard, new pollinator areas, community seed swap events being held, a recycling programme that sees rainwater re-used and sheds constructed from old film sets, plus lots of new gardeners being welcomed onto the newly created starter plots and accessible raised beds, the transformation isn't over yet.

"We've already got a local company who have said they'll help fund a classroom area, we want to encourage other schools to get involved," said Tracey, "create somewhere to get the children out of the classroom, somewhere they can see this is how vegetables are grown, this is how honey is made. Seeing is believing isn't it."

Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Events, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: "The work that's been done to transform this site is incredibly impressive and fits in brilliantly with our allotment strategy which seeks to improve access for disadvantaged groups and reduce waiting lists."

If you're interested in becoming an allotment holder, vist:

More information on the Council's allotment strategy is available here: