A COMPANY aiming to get people growing again is busy turning a field on the edge of Stourbridge into up to 300 allotments to encourage locals to get more involved with nature.

Roots allotment company is turning an empty field off Sugar Loaf Lane at Iverley into a new large-scale allotment patch with a difference.

Work on site has caused some concern from locals worried about development on the green belt but the company has insisted it is acting under permitted development rights to transform the field into allotments.

Christian Samuels, of Roots, said: “Everything we’re doing is completely permissible.

“Our aim is to get people growing and to teach people how to grow.”

The aim is to ultimately create around 300 plots on the site, which he said they have signed a 25-year lease for, but around 20 or so will be released in batches to begin with – starting from September 1.

Christian, aged 30, said he and close friends Ed Morrison, aged 36, and William Gay, aged 29, with help from Will’s twin brother Josh, thought up the idea for Roots allotments during the Covid lockdowns.

Stourbridge News: Christian Samuel, Ed Morrison, William Gay of Roots allotmentsChristian Samuel, Ed Morrison, William Gay of Roots allotments (Image: Roots)

Living in London, they discovered long waiting lists for council-owned allotment patches – ranging from 10 to 25 years – and they realised this was reflected across the country.

The eco-minded friends figured they’d be retiring by the time they could grow their own fruit and veg.

Hailing from a farming family, however, Will and Josh hatched a plan to utilise an unused meadow on family farmland to kick-start a new venture creating ‘no dig’ allotment patches.

The idea essentially means planting seeds and seedlings into compost laid on top of a cardboard layer, which supresses weeds and makes light-work of tending to an allotment patch.

Christian said it also requires less watering and helps to increase good microbial activity in the soil and has been proven to produce higher yields.

The Roots team now have two sites in Bath and say they have proved incredibly popular. Those signing up to have a patch receive seeds, seedlings and help, advice and tuition on growing is available on site.

Their third site near Bristol, however, has proved more controversial with the local planning committee giving the scheme the thumbs down after complaints from residents.

The team, however, are hoping for a more positive response in Stourbridge.

Christian said: “It’s going to help 300 families grow fruit and vegetables. We’re trying to do something really good. We’re trying to build a company that gets people growing their own.”

Stourbridge News: William Gay of Roots at the new Stourbridge site in Sugar Loaf LaneWilliam Gay of Roots at the new Stourbridge site in Sugar Loaf Lane (Image: Roots)

He said the projects have been “loved” in their hometown of Bath and “have added so much value to the local community” and already there’s been a great deal of interest in the forthcoming Stourbridge scheme.

He said: “We’ve had nearly 600 people from Stourbridge and Dudley sign up to express interest.”

Work on the site off Sugar Loaf Lane was reported to South Staffordshire Council as concerns were raised about hedgerows and habitat being destroyed to make way for access into the site.

Stourbridge News: Work underway at the site in Sugar Loaf LaneWork underway at the site in Sugar Loaf Lane (Image: Public)

Christian, however, claims Roots is very much pro-wildlife and said no hedgerows were affected by work to create the entrance, only ferns, and that there was previously an access point onto the lane, albeit some years ago.

Grant Mitchell, assistant director, enterprise and growth at South Staffordshire Council, said the council has been made aware of concerns and has opened an investigation and he added: “The issue is still under investigation whilst we await further information from the landowner.”

He said works could continue but if any enforcement action is taken this could result in a requirement to return the land to its original condition.