Gardeners ignore warnings and carry on eating crops

All in limbo: Ernie Holden and Judith Kahn
All in limbo: Ernie Holden and Judith Kahn

Allotment holders are coming to terms with the news that their plots have been contaminated with arsenic and lead.

The Courier reported that plot holders at Milner Royd allotment site, Sowerby Bridge, were only warned about eating their crops last month, despite the council knowing about the contamination since 2005.

Calderdale Council has now carried out more detailed tests of the soil. However, many of the 28 plot holders have carried on eating their vegetables while others have been left to count the cost of hours of effort and wasted money.

Steve Trafford, 43, from Sowerby Bridge, said: “I’ve had a plot for two years. We are still eating some of our crops. I smoke though, so I don’t think it will be a poisoned lettuce that kills me.

“We don’t grow any winter veg so we haven’t had too much coming through. Before this report comes through our veg won’t be through yet so we will wait and see what the report says.

“I’m amazed there are not regular tests at all the allotments in the area but I assume it all comes down to money.”

Ernie Holden, 67, from Sowerby Bridge, has had a plot for the last three years and is still eating everything he’s grown.

He said: “I don’t think this second report will be as bad as the first one as they will be taking it from a different area away from the landfill mound.

“We are all in limbo at the minute and it’s just a lot of stress. The pollution is only going to get worse though once the road goes in.”

Andrew Smith, from Sowerby Bridge, helped to set up a wildlife area with communal crops at the allotments.

He said: “We’ve got a pond with toads, frogs and newts and they seem to be thriving alongside dragonflies, damselflies and loads of butterflies.

“We had planted chestnut trees, blackcurrant and blackberry bushes but we can’t eat them and they are all wasted.

Judith Kahn, from Sowerby, said: “What bothers me was that when I spoke to officials at the consultation evening about stuff falling down from the new road for the development. They said there was nothing they could do about it.”

A scrutiny panel will meet on Wednesday to discuss the allotments.