Adopt-A-Garden scheme – Isle of Wight leads the way with green idea

It is the case that many Islanders can no longer look after their gardens due to ill health or old age. Volunteers to assist with this growing problem are hard to come by, but ironically there is an increased interest in gardening amongst younger people, many of whom have small gardens or no gardens at all. There is also a waiting list of over 500 people for Isle of Wight Council allotments. The Isle of Wight Council endorses the scheme and encourages anyone currently on the allotment waiting list to consider this innovative alternative. The scheme will be launched on 1st February 2008 at the Riverside Centre garden, Newport Quay, Isle of Wight at 11am.

The Adopt-A-Garden proposal is an innovative pilot scheme on the Isle of Wight, which seeks to marry these two groups. The person who has a garden they can no longer look after and the individual who wants a growing space. The householder will get their garden looked after for free and the gardener gets a free allotment in return. No money exchanges hands and either party can give six weeks notice at any time.

“The scheme may have other add-on benefits. The gardener might keep an eye on the householder and report any welfare concerns to the authorities. New friendships might be developed between neighbours and across the generations…“ said Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust, who are leading the project.

“The scheme could mean that some of the Island’s 3,000 uncared for gardens could be growing local food for local people… reducing food miles and encouraging healthy eating along with exercise through gardening activities. This fits very neatly with the Council’s Eco Island vision..’

This pilot project will seek to match up 50 gardens with 50 gardeners over the next 14 months. The initiative will be expanded if extra funding can be accessed. To date the Isle of Wight Charitable Trust, The Footprint Trust and Anchor Staying Put have contributed to the project.

The Trust explained some of the practicalities of the running of the scheme.
“Only gardens that can be accessed from the public highway, i.e. not through a house, will be eligible. The gardeners must be allowed access to tend their produce every day. In some cases it might be necessary to give the gardener a key to the garden gate so this can occur. The area handed over to the gardener should be clearly defined. Issues such as cutting of the lawn or removal of any lawn area should be discussed at an initial meeting. The gardener must dispose of all rubbish created in the growing process. Composting of uncooked organic matter should be permitted, but away from the house. No bonfires should be lit. Householder must have safe access to their garden at all times and to paths, washing line, outhouses etc. Siting of waterbutts, compost bins or any other structure should also be agreed beforehand. We would suggest that no money changes hands from either party. Mains water, if used, could be donated by the householder as a way of saying thank you for looking after their garden.”

The Footprint Trust, a local registered environmental charity, has a commitment to renew and sustain the essential connection between people, plants, and the environment. The satisfying experiences of planting, cultivating, and harvesting fruits and vegetables can create a lifelong appreciation for healthy living. The Trust believes that gardening is a means of promoting education, health and wellness, environmental stewardship and community endeavour.

Anchor Staying Put supports this project due to its commitment to helping older and disabled people to stay living in their own homes independently, safely, securely and warmly. Staying Put provides practical support in helping people adapt, repair or improve their home to enable this. Tash Koerner, Agency Manager, says:

“Frequently, people also request assistance from us for help with maintaining their garden to prevent themselves from tripping over stones or broken paving slabs, or so they can simply hang out the washing or appreciate the view. The Adopt-A-Garden scheme will allow people to enjoy their garden as an extension to their home more safely.”

Those interested should call the Trust on (01983) 82-22-82
or email them at


Tel 01983 82-22-82