The weather has turned slightly cooler, the fruit is ripening and the trees are starting to lose the odd lazy leaf. Autumn’s whispering in summer’s ear as the blackberries ripen and the harvest of the allotment is in full swing. I love visiting allotments –it’s a chance to peek into a secret world usually only open to those luck enough to rent a space. Every plot is different, yet somehow the same. The shape is broadly rectangular; there’s usually at least one structure – shed/ greenhouse/ fruit cage; and there’s a marvellous indiscriminate use of recycled materials to form fences and raised beds.
Sunday 18th August saw the gates of the Sefton Park allotments swung wide to welcome visitors to their open day.
It’s a lovely space that’s provided a community resource for over 80 years to local residents. Plot holders were on site to talk about their gardens, inspire and advise about growing your own food. Live music, a Turkish BBQ, fresh ice cream and a series of tables selling produce, cakes, jams and bric a brac added a festive air. Funds were being raised to help save Farm Terrace allotments in Watford, currently under threat of redevelopment. I made a donation and received a hand-tied bunch of fresh herbs in return. It was a great example of the community spirit allotments are famous for – a group of passionate people doing their best for another group of people at the other end of the country, who just want to keep growing. You can read more about their story here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/jul/24/farm-terrace-allotments
As the Sefton Park plot holders pointed out, what happens elsewhere, can easily happen here. The current fight to keep the Sefton Park meadows out of developers’ hands is a case in point.
Choosing an ice cream (supplied by Archers) from the Fellici cart, I set off in a light drizzle – I’m British, ice cream and days out go together, irrespective of what the weather’s doing – for a meander up and down the neatly mown paths. The main thing that struck me was the sheer variety of edibles on offer. I spotted the feathery ferns of asparagus beds; ripening plums, pears and apples; greenhouses literally stuffed with tomatoes; artichokes; courgettes; pumpkins; salad leaves; herbs; wigwams of purple, red and green beans; raspberries & blackberries tangling along a fence; and in between, a feast for the pollinators – nasturtiums, tansy, marigolds and foxgloves. A bed of flowering mint was abuzz with bees, and butterflies chased each other amongst the sweet peas.
I spent a happy hour pottering up and down the plots, stopping to chat and admire. I came home clutching pots of purple beans, verbena and courgettes to create my own little edible space. The juxtaposition of fruit, vegetables and flowers I saw today is exactly what I’d like to have in my own garden. Job done Sefton Park Allotments, I’m inspired. Thank you.