I have wanted an allotment since I moved up north 10 years ago! (Where does time go?). The background behind this is that when I was a young girl my grandparents used to take me up to their allotment. They kept a few animals up there so it was essentially more like a small holding. They had chickens, geese, horses, goats, dogs and ferrets. I used to love feeding them, riding the horses and collecting the eggs. The sights, sounds and smells all captured my imagination and fascination. I loved the smell of the tomato plants in the greenhouse, where I sat pretending to cut chips from the small potatoes we had pulled up that day. The feel of the pea pods as we shelled them. The bwarks of the chickens or the hiss of the geese as they tried to chase us out of their enclosure. It was quite magical to a young influential country girl. My favourite memories are of riding (and falling off) the horses as we walked them up and down the paths. They spent a lot of time grazing in big open fields away from the allotment, so it was nice to be able to get up close to them when they were stabled.
As I got older, the animals became less, as my grandparents got older also. I stopped visiting the allotment as a teenager who was only interested in hanging around with friends! I missed allotment life when I moved and I was no longer a teenager, so could appreciate what I had when I was younger. I craved that connection with the outdoors and tried in vain attempts to grow lettuce in pots from flat balconies.
I had heard that a local organisation had acquired a field in my town, to build allotments to meet the exceptionally high demand in our area, I didn’t hold out much hope. I thought they would have all been snapped up super quick, by the many people already sat on the councils long lists, for the very few plots we had in the area.
However I saw a few posts on good ol’ Facebook. People saying they’d recently got a plot on this new site and they required all the paraphernalia that goes with gardening. So I thought I’d just send an email to the management of this organisation to see if there was a list I could be put on. To my surprise I got a quick response (unlike in the past, when I wouldn’t get a reply from the council list.) Not only that, but there was an actual possibility that there were some plots left over, from people who didn’t want to take one of these new ones (were they mad?). I was put on a list and told I would hear soon if they could offer me one.
I didn’t have to wait long at all, I was offered a plot! I couldn’t believe it, I’d done it! My dream of recreating my childhood, for my son, was about to become reality. I took no time in taking them up on the offer to go and view the plot. I went up the next day and spoke with the allotment manager.
The plot they were offering had just been turned over, the soil looked to be quite heavy clay and due to the amount of rain we had then, it appeared to be pooling in areas. It was sited on a slope. I had a look around at this bare patch of land. Mulled it over. Worried that I had this great opportunity but the bare stretch of land looked daunting, how do I deal with that slope? What on earth could I do with the pooling water?
The excitement of having a little piece of land to call my own, for as long as I wanted it, over took the worry of having absolutely no idea how I would prepare the soil ready for growing produce. I emailed (after discussions with the husband) and took them up on the offer. I signed the contract, paid the rent and within a week I had completed all that was needed. I got an email in the evening to say I was allowed to start work on my plot. I was straight down there the next day to sit and look over the land and try to visualize how I would do things. If for whatever reason I one day have to give up my plot, I am setting the foundations for someone else, from scratch. Everything needs to be done right.