Yesterday was the scheduled date for the demolition of the Manor Gardens Allotments. If you remember, the 100-year-old allotments are close to the site of the 2012 Olympics, and will be demolished to make way for a path which will be used for 4 weeks.
A rally was held to mark the occasion. Protesters brought wreaths and flowers to lay at the allotment gates, "for all that's being lost".
Allotmenteers were joined by local residents and other people displaced by the Olympics outside the town hall. They then marched to the Olympic Gates to demonstrate their "disquiet, and distrust of the promised benefits the Olympics are claimed to bring".
What upsets me is the profound lack of understanding about gardening and growing things displayed by the Olympic committee and the various courts and authorities who have failed to prevent this. It's not good enough to just give them a different site. It's not good enough to say they'll be allowed back to their old site after the games. When you garden a plot of land you improve it. You dig it and incorporate manure, lime, sand and so on to improve the drainage and fertility. You work to eradicate resident pests and perennial weeds. You plant perennial plants such as rhubarb, asparagus and soft fruit bushes which take time to establish but which will be productive for many years. You establish a crop rotation system in which your nitrogen-hungry brassicas follow your nitrogen-releasing legumes, which in turn follow your ground-breaking and weed-smothering potatoes, which have followed your root vegetables and so on.
You can't just turf people out and say "Look, we've got this other site for you. It's brand new, so it must be better. There are sheds and everything". And you can't just say "We'll build loads of concrete and paths over your old site, but we'll bulldoze them back up again in six years' time and you can have it back. It'll be just the same".
If there had at least been some recognition of what the allotmenteers are losing - if they had been offered significant compensation for example, or if the media who reported the case had shown that they understood what was at stake - perhaps they might have felt less aggrieved. But instead they have been portrayed as a bunch of stick-in-the-mud old fogeys, standing stubbornly in the way of progress.
It seems to me that this battle has been something very primal and basic. People who work an area of land to produce their own food are fighting against the invasion and loss of their land. It's a noble cause, and I am sad that they have lost. I am even sadder that they have been so profoundly misunderstood and misrepresented.
From BBC News and the Lifeisland website.