SWCAA is 10 years old in February this year. It has come a long way from the small back room of an Exeter pub where we used to hold our meetings as far back as 2005.
The group originally started life representing the NSALG in the South West region. They were a forward thinking group of people who were concerned about the lack of support, provision, help and funding available to individual allotment holders and groups and had a lot of ideas of how they could change things. Unfortunately, it soon became clear the NSALG did not support those changes and ideas and withdrew their support and funding from the group. A decision was made that a new group be formed not just to represent the South West but the whole of the UK helping anyone that needed it, after all there is room for competition in all business so why should allotments be any different.
The South West Counties Allotment Association was born and was set up as a Community Interest Company in 2008.
We received lottery funding which helped us to set up our admin system and equip an office plus help with costs of advertising and promotional material which enabled us to travel to different events spreading the word. We also received a grant to have a new website built, this was just what we needed to get us up and running, word of mouth did the rest! There was a lot in the media at that time about the lack of provision for allotments and with demand growing councils were under increasing pressure to provide. One of our main aims was to highlight the need for allotments and help people by giving them the information they needed to petition their local council and also help them if their site was under threat from development.
We wanted our organisation to be different from others that had been around for many years, we wanted to be the modern, forward thinking voice of the allotment movement, we weren’t here to tell people what to do or expecting them to follow outdated sets of rules. We believe in giving people the tools they need to help themselves as well as being the friendly voice at the end of the phone. We’ve had a few changes over the years including shortening our name to SWCAA and more recently and brand new website. The business is now overseen by a board of four Directors.
We have thousands of members across the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland which consist of individuals, associations/societies, community groups, garden/land share schemes and schools, we also advise local councils and private landowners. Although most people see allotment gardening as a relaxing past time is does unfortunately come with its own share of problems and many people find themselves in situations they just don’t know how to deal with. You name it we’ve dealt with it! You never know what to expect next, but that’s the beauty of working for SWCAA.
So, it is true that from small beginnings big things can grow, you just have to believe anything is possible. I am so proud of what we have achieved in our 10 years in business and look forward to continuing to provide help and assistance to all those that need us in the future. If you think you or your group might like to join us then please take a look at the rest of our website and see what we can offer you, we would love to welcome you to our organisation.