Snap Shot of the Corona Lockdown Haven
Urban dwellers growing and enjoying & relaxing outdoors on their allotments
The epidemic created anxiety, fear and new way of learning to cope with the virus, allotments showed themselves to be a shield and safest place to be for tranquillity with the children and elders, to be creative to relax enjoy and get close to nature, and to be safe and still socially interactive, to lean so much more about growing, nurturing veg and fruits, to create dishes for their tables each day for home working people, to be able safely relaxing outdoors with their families and neighbours, to get a break to get away from their phones, screens and 4 walls and constant news bulletins, to feel free and close to nature and to see the rewards of their growing and tendering efforts, to have a purpose and share it with their family.
Times of the covid fears and uncertainty have cause in many city dwellers, a huge stress, worries for their employment, future then and their family’s health.
Allotment under covid this spring and summer has been the busiest ever, everybody had more time and they flooded daily to their allotment plots.
It was great watching all these families day in day out tending their plots, engaging their children in the gardening and teaching them about nature and developing in their creativity wit gardening articles the flower pots, various flowers and vegetables
And get in all this bustle of activities and people there was on all plots a bubble of haven for peace and relaxing, listening to the sky’s and roads awakening to the silence of the buzziness of bees and insects
It was as they were suddenly far away in the wilderness of nature, it was a perfect place to keep themselves and their families safe and carefree and still be in the city under lockdown and uncertainty
This was a momentous occasion and also such a positive beautiful and above all, the healthy activity for the mind and for the physical body. This gave me an idea to document this in caption dwelling families and to let them write their stories, experience and views of how lockdown help them and their families stay well and happy
Each story tells of their way of overcoming the covid anxiety and fear, they all agree that their mental state was greatly helped and that family time spent on their plots has been an inspirational experience, daily commuting taking children to schools, clubs visiting doctors and hospitals spending time shopping and window shopping was ill forgotten, families have suddenly become ‘more families’ as they were spending more time together and getting engages in all activities together
All the photographs show the happy community in covid lockdown.
Andrew Da Costa re Paul Goodwins Allotment Holder in Ealing
For some time I have been contemplating what I could do towards my Silver Duke of Edinburgh skill. Then a friend of mine suggested that I could do some voluntary work on the local allotments, just like he had done towards his D of E Bronze award. My first thought was “Sounds boring”, but after some deliberation I thought “Why not”. My only previous link with an allotment was watering the plot of Paul Goodwin, a friend. I spoke to Paul and asked him if I could work and learn on his allotment, Paul agreed. I started working with Paul and instantly found it most enjoyable, especially as the whole country was in lockdown and I was stuck at home doing school work or playing on my X Box (When my parents allowed me to) I had never done any gardening before so it was a steep learning curve, well with my just do it attitude I had a great time.
Anna Uwechia Allotment Holder in Ealing
I volunteered to be a helper to a main plot holder, the agreement was that during the periods when she would be out of the UK I would assist with watering and keeping the plot maintained, in the bargain I was given some space to also plant my own crops - win, win situation.
Like many people I have been seduced over the years by numerous gardening programmes, the Chelsea flower show and sight of the glorious kitchen gardens of celebrity cooks and I have embraced the idea of growing and eating fresh produce that is tasty, locally grown and nurtured by one loving owner.
It turns out that this was just the beginning of the benefits of my allotment journey as it has since become a life-line in a difficult fast paced world, it has been a haven in times of stress and bereavement and it has been a great contributor to exercise and mental health wellbeing. Who knew?
Sometimes I am even transported back to my childhood when my mother, a busy NHS worker originally from the Caribbean, used to grow vegetables in our front garden in Chiswick. Initially I was embarrassed that we didn’t have flowers galore like everyone else but in between the roses mum knew that she needed to feed us well on her limited income and could utilise the little space that she owned to grow courgettes, runner beans, tomatoes and cabbages ( I am sure there were other things but memory fades with time). One thing for sure though is Mum knows best!
During Lockdown every plot holder has appreciated this recreational opportunity even more so and we can do this safely because we are all at least 2 meters apart from each other on our plots and this is normal for us. We still manage to engage socially at a distance and we still reap the rewards of our labour as always. Now though I find myself delivering vegetable parcels to those who are shielding in the community and I have given more plants to friends to grow at home in their gardens and all of a sudden they actually want to do it.
It is now my personal mission to get as many people as possible connected to our planet and plant life, I want everyone to know the joy of nurturing a plant from seed to plate even if they grow at home in pots, on balconies, gardens or allotments. There is literally nothing like it and of course we need to look after the bees who pollinate our plants and keep us alive. To sum up my feelings of gardening I would say ‘Be kind’.
Be kind to the planet, be kind to the Bees, be kind to one another and help and share your produce – Feed the World!
Chris Schilcher Allotment Holder in Ealing
As you can see from the photo which was taken shortly after I took over the plot, my plot had been neglected for some time. Having never had an allotment plot before, it appeared to be slightly overwhelming but with talking to other plot holders, discussing suitable planting for the soil type and planning for a year round crop growth has been a very interesting process.
Once I started work to remove all the overgrowth and then laying out the beds, I started to develop an understanding of where the best locations would be for the different planting.
It has been a process of trial and error but backed up with advice and support from other plot holders and utilising reclaimed materials I have managed to create water storage, the erection of a second hand greenhouse and defining the borders to stop inward growth of weeds and grass.
The whole process has not only been good for my physical health but during lockdown has been excellent for my mental wellbeing and having now started to reap the rewards of all the research and hard work in terms of bringing home a variety of fresh organic produce, has also been an excellent way of saving money and knowing the origin of the food that we have been eating. The enjoyment of being out in the fresh air during both the summer sun and winter rain, tending the plot and preparing for the next crop, has been rewarding beyond any of my expectations.
Emma Devlin Allotment Holder in Ealing
We have had our plot for 8 and a half years. I had just found out I was pregnant with our second child, so maybe not the greatest timing but having waited three years we were still excited to finally have a plot. I have always loved gardening and of course one of the downsides of living in London is the small gardens. So it seemed like a natural decision to apply for a plot. While we waited we tried growing veg in pots to get us started.
Having a plot has become a huge part of our lives and had become a family activity. It has taken time to improve our plot and get it to where we want it to be. It is still a work in progress all these years later but overwhelmingly it is such a satisfying past time. You really do get out what you put in. It is also a space to retreat to, to recharge your batteries, switch off your brain, and focus on the plot and nothing else. It’s a great tool to support your mental health.
During lockdown, it was a safe place to go to as a family. With local parks so busy, we could go to the plot know we were naturally socially distanced, and get some exercise while there. Our plot has never looked so good, so early in the year!
Helen & Oscar Savage Allotment Holder in Ealing
We have had our allotment for five years now and luckily our garden backs onto the allotments and over lockdown it was really wonderful to escape the news and enjoy the magic of spring! The sense of community and escapism is always there but it was definitely even more special this year.
Quote from Oscar: “I think the allotment is a place of life. It is a safe home for animals and it is our very own secret garden where you can grow whatever you wish. When I go to the allotment I feel excited because I never know what I am going to find”.
Irene and John Sawyer Allotment Holder in Ealing
My husband, John and I have only had plot 11B since September 2019. I retired in May 2015 and realising that I now had time to give to an allotment decided to put my name down in 2016. I have friends who also have allotments at the Haslemere site and I knew how satisfying they found allotment life. We only have small gardens where we live so it is great to have the space to grow fruit and vegetables. Obviously taking on an allotment which had been unloved for some time meant a lot of hard work to start with but now we are enjoying the fruits of our labour! During lockdown the allotment has been a lifesaver - it gave us somewhere to go every day and provided us with our daily exercise as well. On a sunny evening there is nothing better than relaxing together with a well-deserved glass of wine.
Jill Ashcroft Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had my plot for 21 years, my father was a keen gardener at home, and had a beautiful garden, so I think I probably picked up my enthusiasm from him. Our garden in Ealing isn’t very big, so I hankered after a bit more space for growing vegetables and things I didn’t have room for at home. I felt very excited being able to grow my own vegetables and fruit, and was pleased to be able to show my young family where these things actually came from, and hopefully to encourage them to eat more veg, and even want to help and grow some things themselves. The allotment also felt like an escape from the hurly-burly of family life. Hard work but peaceful at the same time.
During the Corona lockdown period the allotment has really come into its own. It feels so good to have a purpose when so many other commitments have been pushed away. It is something to look forward to each day, that feeling of simply DOING something useful, and something to take pride in. It is a peaceful site, and I get plenty of exercise and fresh air, yet it is also very safe as it is easy to self-distance. With more spare time than normal (i.e. the whole week!) it has also been satisfying to do all the odd jobs that have been put off for years.
And home-grown fruit and vegetables are so much more delicious!
It is a lovely atmosphere, a little oasis in the middle of the suburbs.
Julia & Richard Sarson Allotment Holder in Ealing
One of the things I’ve been really grateful for during lockdown is our allotment. Tucked away behind the houses in Northfields Ealing, it is an oasis of tranquillity and abundant life. Like many people I have experienced heightened anxiety during the Covid lockdown but the allotment has felt like something of a safe haven. Spending time weeding, planting, watering, and (eventually) harvesting, I find my busy, anxious mind slowing down and my sense of calm is restored. Just as the fruit and vegetables we grow are nourishment for the body, the process of growing them has been nourishment for my soul.
Julie and Alan Perkinson Allotment Holder in Ealing
I think I have had this plot for around 20 years! I love gardening and a break from the young children on the plot was really energising! Especially as the allotments were nearby. Having an allotment has been a wonderful calming therapy, being out in nature, learning a lot and great meeting people and working with them. The pond is great for frogs and cooling your beer or wine! It has been very precious during the lockdown for sanity preservation!!
Alan has written a light-hearted song:
“God bless, God bless my watercress
Potato, corn, and bean
My allotment meant a lot to me
The best you’ve ever seen”
The photo was when we were drinking a beer with our friends Paul & Ros Brown out on the plot. Paul, the entomologist was checking the aphids on the plum tree and I was checking my giant blackberries! Socialising and relaxing out there is as important as all the hard work!!
Linda Marsh Allotment Holder in Ealing
I was very fortunate in being able to acquire an allotment twelve years ago. I had taken early retirement due to illness and felt that I now had the time needed to devote to the plot. It proved to be an enormous help in dealing with the effects of a gruelling stem cell treatment for myeloma. Not only was it good for my physical recovery but proved invaluable in promoting a sense of calm and tranquillity and hope for the future.
It enabled me to use the space to grow organically- this was important as pesticides were linked to my particular form of blood cancer. It also enabled me to take pleasure in the design of the plot and to be able to find an outlet for creativity. Over the years I have enjoyed harvesting and sharing a variety of crops and filling the house with flowers for most of the year.
In the lockdown I missed the growing season as I was one of the shielded group. However, thanks to the kindness of my allotment neighbours I was able to see photos of the plot over the months indoors and was so grateful to them for planting out crops and watering throughout this difficult period. There is a real sense of community and I have been very touched by the kindness that has been shown.
Natasha Parslow Allotment Holder in Ealing
We took our plot on 3 years ago when it was waist-high nettles, three overgrown fruit trees and a run-down old shed and have slowly nurtured it back to life. We moved to the area 7 years ago before my second son was born and thought it would be lovely to grow some of our own veg with the kids so we put our name down and waited! There is a very welcoming allotment community and we’ve have received many tips, gifts of plants and encouragement as we’ve got to grips with the plot.
It’s been amazing to transform it slowly over several years and there’s such a sense of achievement when things grow. It’s not always easy. The first year the slugs won and we lost all our courgette plants but there’s nothing like the taste of your own potatoes and green beans. I think it’s been great for the children to get involved in the growing and picking. They have an appreciation of where food comes from and how much work is involved! My sons love hunting for golden raspberries, finding frogs in the long grass and hiding up in the apple trees.
Having the allotment nearby to escape to has just been amazing. It feels like a little secret corner of the countryside right here on our doorstep. I love heading down in the calm of the early evening to water all the plants. The sky feels so big! It’s a tranquil 5 minutes for me away from the stresses and strains of the teatime routine and it has been invaluable during this time of lockdown to have this freedom and space. We have been so lucky with the weather this spring and the blossom was incredible after such a wet winter. It’s no surprise that the plots are looking great with all the extra time and attention this year!
Sarah Constable Allotment Holder in Ealing
The allotment is a place of sanctuary, 10 years ago this month my mum died, she was an active member of the allotment community holding 2 plots. She had introduced my sister Ruth to the joys of the allotment but for me it just felt like outside housework. When she died my sister kept Plot 30 and released the other one, and tried to keep it going, after about a year and a half she called for help, and from then on I was hooked. Mums first career was as a language teacher, but she retired and found a new calling as a textile artist taking her inspiration from her environment. She loved colour, and I have kept that going.
During Covid 19 lockdown, my son Anton and I have been working together to develop the plot, for me it’s time I wouldn’t normally get with him, working together creating the space for the whole family to enjoy, for him its given him purpose while on furlough.
The plot is now a garden of flowers and food, a place to sit with my family and friends, to spend time contemplating and teach my grandchildren how to grow their own, with a little bit of arts and craft to keep it interesting.
Thom Stanbury Allotment Holder in Ealing
I took it on in May 2018. This was my first allotment. When I lived in Walthamstow, I’d looked after that of a friend for six months while she worked away from home, and I rather enjoyed it; so when I moved to Northfields I, rather methodically, joined the waiting lists of any allotments that were within one mile (because I know myself!) of where I was going to live. By chance I came to the top of all three lists around the same time - but whereas the other two sites just flirted a little, Haslemere, in the person of Caro, came straight out with it and said “if you come now you can choose it today”.
The plot is a slow and constant delight. Gardening is a “slow burn” isn’t it? We plant things, or prune things now; in the expectation of plenty, later. And even if there’s, not plenty, but scarcity [looks significantly at some withered sticks where the broad beans used to be], it’s fascinating to watch, and make notes, and think “well I learned something here today”.
Plus in my case I feel a sense of temporary stewardship - I’ve benefitted from rosemary, apples, greengages and raspberries that someone else has planted; and I’m nudging them along slightly by pruning, shaping, moving to make the paths and rhythms that I want.
I’m absolutely aware of the help the allotment gives to my inner life; I can feel stress falling away when I arrive, and half an hour of weeding will cure any worry I can find - I get into a state of “flow” and everything else is lost. SO of course during the pandemic all of these qualities have come to the fore. The plot is looking OK; and every day of work is balanced by an hour or so of digging, or hoeing, or watering. Actually mostly watering.
Anna Gallagher and Erin Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had an allotment plot for 12 years now, my original plot was 1b, I moved to 8b around 4 years ago.
After years of pinching lawn space to make my home vegetable patch bigger I realised that I needed more space and I needed to reclaim my lawn, so I took on an allotment. It has been a great way for me to get some space back at home and to meet other likeminded people who just enjoy gardening and being outdoors. Over the past year the allotment has become more important. I enjoy being outdoors and as the country and facilities shut down the allotment was still there. It can be hard work but at the end of the day the benefits of being outdoors, getting exercise and watching the results of the work that goes into maintaining the plot make life worthwhile!
Celia Woolfrey Allotment Holder in Ealing
I was in two minds about taking on an allotment because of the work involved, but as soon as I saw the plot, I fell in love with it. Half of it had been well tended, but a kind of jungle with a huge heap of rubbish on the other half was mine too, it turned out. It took years to really turn a corner with it. Growing food is a huge reality check. The seasons of the year are much bigger than our work deadlines or social life. At a certain point in spring there’s what I think of as the Green Wave: like a surfer you get swept along by the energy of the growing time of year and you have to be ready to make the most of it.
During the shorter days of winter, I can often only get to the plot at weekends. There have been times when I have had to quickly plant broad beans or garlic before the light goes or the weather turns. Nature puts us humans in our rightful place.
An allotment site is a liminal space – it’s not a domestic setting like a back garden and it’s not the same as farmland or a copse, it’s in-between with a bit of all those places and something of its own that you don’t get anywhere else. I’ve got weeds and wildflowers on mine, 100 different grasses with interesting seeds heads, a lizard lives under an old zinc water tank, there are hedgehogs on the site. That semi-wild aspect frees something in you I think. Having a space like this for yourself is a privilege.
During the first Covid lockdown I so was relieved when allotments were included as something you were allowed to do. Spending time outside getting my hands dirty is something that makes me happy. I’d have found it very, very tough if we hadn’t been allowed to work our plots. It took the pressure off and I valued seeing everyone up here. Lockdown made me realise I’m much more a part of the Haslemere community than I’d thought.
Doreen Allen Allotment Holder in Ealing
My husband Bazil Allen and I have been on the allotment since 1988, we both really enjoy planting the vegetables, then watching them grow, and it’s not all about the vegetables as we so look forward to meeting up and chatting with the other plot holders.
Mentally it is great to be able to get out and see people and enjoy the fresh air, by going there it gave us more energy as we needed to water and look after the plants, and it also bought a feeling of freedom. We felt free during lockdown and could breathe more easily on our allotment as at the time it was compulsory to wear a mask but we didn’t have to wear it in our own space on the allotment.
Watching our plants grow really brings a smile and makes us feel very happy and content with life.
Ealing Cardiac Group Allotment Holder in Ealing
Left to right :- Fiona Sims, Adrian Ali, Martin Dixon, Howard Franklin, Rosemary Beales, Stuart Pound, Ian Renwick
ECG is a voluntary organisation that provides expert-led fitness training for people with heart and pulmonary issues. An allotment seemed a valuable ‘bolt on’ for our members, and so when the opportunity arose last year with we took on a trial plot. This year, because of lockdown, we had a late start but have made up for it since! Our volunteers value the serenity of the plot and enjoy the gentle exercise, too. It’s also an opportunity to meet up with our friends - and that’s much appreciated, given that all our exercise classes are currently over Zoom. Oh, our produce looks and tastes delicious, too.
Heather & David Millican Allotment Holder in Ealing
Heather: I have had the plot since September 2019. When I inherited it, it was very overgrown and unkempt. I spent many happy and cold days over the winter getting it cleared of weeds and detritus and trying to establish some shape and order. In September I hoped and planned that by this summer I might have two thirds under production if I worked really hard.
Because of the extra time at my disposal due to lockdown I have the whole plot under cultivation with everything looking relatively neat and tidy. It’s immensely satisfying.
Every time I step on to the allotment site my heart soars. I feel so happy pottering about on the plot. It’s not just the amazing satisfaction of seeing a tiny seed become a vast plant. For me the sense of space (in such a high density living environment), being surrounded by green, being able to see so much sky and the fresh air all contribute to an immense feeling of well-being.
I firmly believe that were it not for the allotment during lockdown I would have ended up on medication. Sounds extreme but whilst I’m fortunate to have a garden it is tiny and it couldn’t possibly have kept me so happily occupied.
The cat is called Simba. She invariably appears as soon as I arrive at the plot and makes her presence felt by sprawling across the bed I’m trying to weed or just meowing until she is smothered with attention! Absolutely no need for loneliness with Simba in attendance! David: As the undergardener to my wife, pressed into service during lockdown mostly watering and weeding, I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the allotment, in these socially distanced times, and am now enjoying eating the fruits of our labours.
Helen de Jimenez Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had my plot for about nineteen years. I used to have a plot many years ago when my children were small so I always had the idea of having an allotment again. When I moved to this area and began working part time, the idea of an allotment was very appealing. At the time the site was run by the charity with an onsite manager. There was no great waiting list and I then had a friend who used to come down with me and we combined working the plot with socialising. When I finally retired the plot took on a more important role in my life as it became a means of seeing other people without too much effort. During the lockdown period it has been a godsend as it has provided daily interaction with people, exercise and the ability to get out of the house. With other members of the family also having plots on the site I have been able to see the younger generation quite frequently. The children have been very good at keeping a distance between us.
Janka, Nabil & Neama Tomasovicova Allotment Holder in Ealing
I grew up in a small village called Dubova in Slovakia. My father owned a huge garden/land with vineyards, lots of fruit trees and vegetables. He would go and sell fresh produce at the market and made his own wine. As a little girl I have beautiful memories seeing my father nurturing the plants and me taking for granted having fresh fruits and vegetables. My mum would spend all autumn making jams, pickles, syrups and preserving things for winter. Times had moved on and I found myself living here in buzzing London far away from nature, full of concrete and tall buildings.
When I heard about allotments I really wanted to have one. My dream came true three years ago when my friend asked me for help at her piece of a plot. I have been so grateful to have a place where I can escape at the end of the busy week. I do not take it for granted now to have fruit and vegetable which are full of real taste. The enormous joy when you do succeed and after hard work, forever picking off slugs, in the end you are rewarded with something which you have grown yourself.
I should not forget the lovely community that we belong to. People passing by encouraging you, giving you advice, smiling or just having a nice chat. For me and my children the allotment meant ever so much more during the lock down when this was the only place left to go every day to relax and feel safe. I know sometimes it feels almost unbelievable to hear birds singing above you, no traffic, no noise, fox snooping around, bees buzzing and me forgetting the world.
I am sure my dad would have been proud of me if he was alive too.
Jon Wilton Allotment Holder in Ealing
I’ve been working this plot for seven or eight years now and this season has turned out to be like no other. From the middle of last March, as lockdown kicked in and when I was instructed to work from home, I could utilise my commuting time to prepare the various beds on the plot for planting. The only problem was – there were no shops open to buy new packets of seeds. Therefore I had no choice but to rummage around in various shoeboxes full of my collection of seeds from a variety of origins for anything that had an odds on possibility of germinating. April’s glorious weather helped provide ideal growing conditions for the plants and I could take advantage of the calm and tranquillity that the allotment offered when all around the good residents of Ealing were scrambling to find tinned goods of any kind. Alas I couldn’t grow packets of pasta on my plot as my children requested but now I am finally reaping the benefits of all that lockdown labour with a harvest of produce for both friends and family.
Justin & Kate Johnson Allotment Holder in Ealing
We got our plot in March 2020, just before lockdown hit.
We were prompted to get the plot because our friends had a plot and our children saw how lovely it was and desperately wanted one. We visited the allotments and saw how peaceful and lovely they were and so put our names down.
We got the plot at the beginning of lockdown and it was a lifesaver. We could escape our house and devote our energies to this new project. It gave us a much-needed focus, somewhere to go and a practical activity we could get involved in as a family. We have loved seeing the crops (and weeds) grow, we’ve built a shed, dug a pond and enjoyed carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, runner beans and much more. But most of all, in the middle of lockdown we were lucky enough to discover a new community.
Kay Dudman Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had my plot for about 40 years and wanted one within walking distance of home. I have always enjoyed gardening since I was a child and this site enables me to grow vegetables, flowers and fruit. My children have also been involved and benefitted from being hands on and close up to nature. One, when aged seven, planted a pip from an apple he had eaten there and saw the whole life cycle of growth, beautiful blossom and pollinating insects with resultant fruit, which he and the whole family have been able to share over the years, until it recently had to be cut down due to its prolific growth. However much work there is growing your own on an allotment I find the whole experience quite therapeutic. It takes you away from all the other stresses and strains for a while out in the fresh air and changing seasons. There is an abundance of nature above and around you; butterflies, birds of prey, a pond with frogs in, friends to share triumphs and failures and tips on what you are growing and there is always time to relax with a cup of tea. If it pours with rain you can sit in the shed and just watch everything grow. During this Corona lockdown it has been a lifeline to me, as a shielded person it has been my only escape from my house, with the reluctant agreement from my GP. There have been no aeroplanes, initially no traffic noise and little from the tube trains. The promise of growth all around gave hope for life continuing and plenty of exercise with watering in the glorious hot and sunny weather! No access to shops and Garden Centres has made recycling materials and making do even more fun in the traditional allotment style. Seeing wild flowers and odd plants popping up in unexpected places regardless of the current state of control of our lives at present has also been quite an achievement and rewarding. You can’t beat a spot of weeding for complete satisfaction!
Paul Gooch Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had my allotment for about 20 years. The flat I lived in overlooked an unused plot so I applied for it. I had no garden at that time.
My freelance work in the film industry is intensely busy in bursts of 6 month contracts. The sudden end of a busy work period can leave a void in my life both socially and mentally. The allotment is a great place to channel my energy and find my centre again.
During the lockdown I have spent large portions of every day on the allotment due to the perfect spring weather. This routine, alongside the support of other plot holders has made a difficult time much easier. Having an outside space means a lot to me. I like to be outside as much as possible. The absence of Heathrow planes overhead and too many cars on the roads has brought the birds and clean air back to West London.
Phil, Georgina, Molly and Sophie Duncan Allotment Holder in Ealing
We have had the plot at Haslemere for coming up to 2 and a half years, this is our third season of growing there. We had previously grown a few veggies in the garden (tomatoes, courgettes, herbs) and really enjoyed it. I wanted to teach the kids about where food comes from and give us all an activity we could do outdoors and keep us off the electronic machines. Having super fresh organic, local veggies to eat over the summer months was also an attractive prospect.
The allotment is more of a commitment than we realized when we took it on, but we all really enjoy it in different ways. The kids love coming to pick the fresh peas, strawberries and raspberries. I enjoy the horticultural aspects and learning how to grow and look after different crops and Georgina has enjoyed meeting new people and the lovely community aspects to the allotment. We all love checking out the wildlife pond for signs of dragonflies, frogs and our family of foxes. We have started to eat more seasonally, have learned lots about infusing spirits, making jams, elderflower cordials, etc. It’s been really wonderful.
The allotment has been a lifeline during the Covid-19 lockdown. Having somewhere to safely go to get a change of scenery and get some fresh air has really helped us to get through it. It’s also been great to have something connecting us to the natural world and the seasons to have a sense of normality and connectedness while everything else in life was being completely turned on its head.
All in all it has contributed loads of value and interest to our family life and I would recommend any families with an interest to give it a go!
The more you put in the more rewarding it becomes.
Vinka & Michael Reeves Allotment Holder in Ealing
I have had the allotment since 2004 and as a busy working mother, I had long felt the need to escape to a quiet place where I could occasionally reflect but where I could also engage in some form of positive activity. I had visited a friend’s plot on the allotment and the idea took hold; that’s what I wanted to do. It would not only be the sanctuary I searched for, but also a place where I could create new life.
Having an allotment was something of a renaissance for myself and my husband. We had both worked for 40 years in offices, sitting at desks under artificial lights. We both felt that we needed an interest that would take us out doors where we could be more active, able to enjoy the fresh air but at the same time, be creative. Growing your own food certainly proved to be both creative and challenging and it is hard to believe that we are just 9 miles from Piccadilly Circus.
Having one and a half plots provides us with a good deal of work, but it does mean that we can grow a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Although we have long tended to eat a Mediterranean diet strongly based on vegetables and olive oil, our allotment helps to ensure that we enjoy a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables that we enhance with only a limited amount of red meat.
The allotment has also provided a new experience for our two grandchildren. On their visits they have seen how plants grow and how they are harvested. It is a joy to see a child dig up a potato plant and find the hidden treasure buried beneath; to pick and shell fresh peas; to pull a carrot out of the ground, or to search, find, pick and eat strawberries and raspberries. We spend some time there almost every day, including the winter, when there are always jobs that need to be done. In many respects it is our second home, and we view the shed on Vinka’s plot as our “holiday home”.
It is a place where it has been easy to practice social distancing, but still maintain contact with friends. Equally importantly, it has provided work for us to do that we enjoy and so with an allotment, life can never be boring. With many plot holders furloughed from work, and restrictions placed on parks and open spaces, we have seen more of them and their families working their plots. Despite the very difficult period of the lockdown, and the need for social distancing, we have found that plot holders have maintained a positive attitude, remained cheerful and always ready to engage in conversation.