Observer Comment: Fruit trees have stirred up hornets nest

IN A corner of a Hastings suburb, a keen gardener is quietly going about his business growing 11 fruit trees.

But Michael Rock and his allotment have become an unwanted centre of attention.

The 60-year-old claims he has done nothing wrong by growing his trees on his allotment.

What he has done is challenge the establishment and appears to have stirred up a hornets nest.

He has gone against the grain and made, what seems on paper, a very plausible challenge.

The council appears to have gone to painstaking lengths to reassess the regulations but it does not appear that Mr Rock has done anything untoward. He claims his trees are dwarf rootstock variety which appear to be acceptable under the new draft of rules.

What difference will it make if he grows grass underneath the trees or cabbages? Why should he be made to grow anything there at all?

There may be people waiting for an allotment who want to grow vegetables or maybe even fruit.

But Mr Rock pays his rent and keeps his allotment nice and tidy. He was growing more vegetables than he could consume, so instead of wasting them he decided to grow fruit as a new challenge.

He wants to give the fruit away to the community. He is keen to be part of the community.

He is also keen to fight for his right to grow apples and pears in his allotment.

Mr Rock says he will take his fight all the way to the Court of Human Rights and it is just the kind of case which could put Hastings on the map for the wrong reasons.

In a carbon footprint conscious world, surely the council should be encouraging people to grow their own fruit rather than having to buy peaches from South Africa and pears from New Zealand.


IT’S welcome news that an anonymous donor has put forward some money for a new piece of artwork on the tired-looking Breeds Place roundabout.

At a time when public funds are tight, the offer of private investment for such a project is gladly received.

The fountain currently on the roundabout has been out of order for years and now its only function is as an eyesore.

Whatever artwork is chosen is sure to contribute to the positive change which is slowly coming to the seafront, and it’s also an exciting opportunity for local designers and artists to come up with something lasting and memorable.