Breaking new ground on the community allotment

On Easter Saturday 2010 our community allotment got under way. Eight of us turned up for the initial meeting, to talk about both the practicalities and our aspirations. Some of us had never met before, so more than anything this first day was about making new friends. We quickly decided that all the areas on the allotment will be shared between us, and we talked about what we’d like to grow. Pat brought along some Jerusalem artichokes and tomato seeds, and Ruth offered some raspberry canes from her garden – so before we even arrived at the allotment site, the sharing had already begun.

We started dividing up some of the urgent jobs (such as getting a shed to hold our community tool bank), and we talked about how people want to participate. Some of us will help with the organising and getting supplies, others will garden on the allotment at whatever time suits them. Some people are able to visit the allotment during the week, and for the rest of us we might try to meet up regularly on weekends or during the summer evenings.

We’ve decided to aim for an organic allotment, and we’re lucky to have expert advice available from Rob, who used to be an organic farmer in Canada and now lives in Newsome. He’s one of several people who have offered to help that couldn’t be there for the first meeting, and we hope to catch up with everyone who is interested soon.

News to me was that the plot boundaries have been shifted around a bit since we picked up the keys, so as well as our wonderful wonky A-frame glasshouse, we have now inherited an old grape vine and its little abode. This is yet more broken glass to replace, and something else for us to learn. With my fondness for old bits of wood, I am of course delighted. Hands up who knows how to tend a grape vine…

Once we got to the site, we set about planting some potatoes that were left over from our Spring event, kindly bought for us by Information by Design (IbyD). I’ve since realised just how appropriate it is that the first things we planted on our community allotment were supplied by IbyD, who are the research company that helped us to run the ‘Grow your own food in Newsome’ survey that told us how much demand there is for allotments in Newsome. Steve Wisher, these potatoes are dedicated to you.

As usual, this particular Growing Newsome escapade was both fun and thought-provoking. I found out about the perils of couch grass, the difficulties of getting claggy soil off your wellies, and the vital importance of bits of string. I also discovered that I’m not the only person in Newsome who uses their underfloor heating to propagate seeds.

We all pitched in to establish the boundary of our allotment and to get three row of potatoes in. I think it’s fair to say that the soil was not very co-operative (Cherry aptly said it was what her mother would call “diggin’ pudden”), but we persevered.

It’s clear that we’ll need a lot of patience to turn this sticky patch of earth into something that we can all be proud of, and we’d really like to hear from you if you’d like to help – you can use the contact page on this site to get in touch.

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