Friday, February 19, 2021

2 April 2020 Polytunnel damage

Report for Keep106 radio station

On the night of April 1st/2nd, a large polytunnel belonging to Transition Town Dorchester (TTD), standing on the Community Farm off Middle Farm Way in Poundbury, Dorchester was seriously damaged.  The plastic from the polytunnel, measuring 30x54ft, was cut off and left draped over the now exposed hoops.  The polytunnel was only put up last spring – the growing season is just starting and many of us were growing seedlings at home on window sills to plant on in the polytunnel.  Last year we had a spectacular crop of tomatoes which continued for weeks.  It is not possible to grow tomatoes like this outside, particularly in such a windy spot as the community farm.  The polytunnel was an extremely valuable asset.  It would cost around £600 to replace this plastic as well as a huge amount of effort on the part of the community farm volunteers

One of our members who lets out the geese in the morning spotted the damage at 7am on 2nd April.

Of course, we have no idea who did this.  It was not randomly slashed, so we don’t think it can be put down to ‘mindless vandalism’. The plastic was carefully cut around the doors and the edges to maximise the amount of plastic available, so perhaps the objective was to take it away to sell or use – there is a demand for plastic to cover existing hoops.  However, we don’t know why the plastic was not taken away, although it is a very large unwieldy piece, and it was windy that night.  Three years ago the same thing happened to our old polytunnel, which we had virtually abandoned – it was on the old community farm site, and one night the plastic was carefully cut off and removed.  It was old and stained, but apparently still had a value.

We have been devastated by the loss of our beautiful polytunnel, which was like a pearly cathedral (!!) but we have been really cheered by the reaction from a whole swathe of people who have offered a variety of support and assistance to help us get the polytunnel going again.  However, we will continue cultivating our vegetables, whether we have a polytunnel or not.  And when this lockdown is over, perhaps more people will come to join us, because we believe that COVID has exposed the vulnerability of our food system, and we think that many more people are understanding the importance of the ability to grow food locally.

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