Larne allotment holders have welcomed the delivery of waterbutts to Larne Allotment Gardens, courtesy of NI Water.

A waterbutt is used to collect and store rainwater runoff, typically from rooftops via pipes.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Maureen Morrow, said: “Allotment gardens are a fantastic way in which to demonstrate sustainability. Around 640 litres of water can be collected each year from a 7ft x 5ft shed roof – that’s enough to keep 50 tomato plants healthy for up to three months. These waterbutts will be used by plot holders to harvest rainwater, water crops more sustainably and to save water, especially in the warmer summer months.

“We do get plenty of rain in Northern Ireland but rainwater has to be cleaned at treatment works before it goes into the taps. We all have a part to play to ensure there’s enough water for everyone now and in the future. Less than 1% of all the water on Earth can be used by people. The rest is saltwater or is permanently frozen and we can’t drink it, wash with it, or use it to water plants. As our population grows, more and more people are using up this limited resource. Therefore, it is important that we all use our water wisely and not waste it.

“Waterbutts also support recycling efforts as they are made from recycled plastic. Other ways to garden sustainably include making your own compost from green waste and reducing or eliminating herbicide and pesticide use. I’m delighted to see plot holders in Larne leading the way.”

Anna Killen, NI Water Environmental Outreach and Learning Officer, said: “NI Water was delighted to donate two waterbutts to Larne Allotment Gardens. Waterbutts are a great way of harvesting rainwater, which can then be re-used in a variety of ways including watering plants and washing tools.

“NI Water also took the opportunity of promoting the winter readiness message at the allotments and to make sure everyone knows where their stop tap is in case of an unexpected burst.”

There are currently three Council-run allotment gardens in the Borough, at Town Park Larne, Eden and Greenisland. Allotment gardening can provide a number of benefits such as the opportunity to produce a wide range of inexpensive healthy vegetables, physical exercise in the outdoors, the opportunity to make new friends, and to socialise with others. Plots can cost as little as one pound per week.

As the season turns, the longer evenings and milder days are an ideal time to take on a plot. This is the time to prepare your plot for spring and start sowing early crops such as peas, broad beans and beetroot.

To apply for an allotment plot please visit www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/allotments.