Monday, 22 October 2012

The Overgrown Allotment

I've mentioned being on the long waiting list for an allotment before. A few weeks ago I got a letter from the local council inviting me to a meeting at the allotments because they had cleared some overgrown plots earlier in the year and were now in a position to reallocate them.  The letter said there were 14 people on the waiting list and I knew from asking earlier in the year that I was number 5.  Turns out the full 14 people didn't turn up and actually the 4 before me gave it a miss so I was top.  Yeehaw (erm yeah we'll get to that).

If I'm honest I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe a ready to go plot with minimal work, fenced in with a shed full of tools and seeds? Not exactly but I certainly wasn't expecting (given that the letter said plots had been cleared of undergrowth) just how overgrown and out of the way of the tended plots these ones would be.  From the start the council man said there would be no money for anything at all and we would be renting them as they were but with no rent to pay until 2014. I didn't expect anything less with the current budget cuts etc.

There were 6 plots out on their own down a dirt track next to two already established plots.  Very overgrown and on closer inspection one of them had a nice little den under a tree with lighter gas canisters, cushions and, in the words of my 8 year old, vagina magazines.  Definitely wasn't having that one. They were all pretty much of a muchness with overgrown brambles and almost head height weeds. The main turning off point of this lot of plots, apart from the den, was that there is no water and although the man from the council was going to see about it being turned back on after it had been capped off due to a fractured pipe he couldn't say when that would be.
This was one of them:

Then we looked at 3 plots closer to the main community of the allotments. Still very overgrown and the middle one had a decidedly dodgy looking dilapidated building that most likely once housed pigeons.  Very quickly we decided that we would be choosing one of these plots rather than the others.  One of them had fence posts already in down the exterior side so we went for that one. The council man signed me up and then went to chat to the other people waiting.

This is where we get to the erm yeah bit I mentioned above.  As we were walking away past our plot he caught me up and said another couple had expressed an interest and were above me on the list.  Fair enough I thought because despite him saying I was top of the list they could have arrived after that.  We then set off looking at whether the middle of those plots would be worth trying to restore or remove the dilapidated pigeon loft or whether the one on the end of the three would be better despite being the worst overgrown with massive rambling brambles. 

The council man walked past again so I stopped him and just double checked whether there was anybody else above me before I set my heart on something else. He got his paperwork out and with a puzzled embarassed look said 'actually you are top of the list' and went to tell the other couple.  I was relieved but very nervous about how they would take the news.  They seemed to have a chat with the council man and then looked at the plot next to it with the pigeon thingy. The man came back to me, said the original one was mine and they were having the next door one.  I was very nervous about how they were going to be about it but we had a nice chat and he said the council man had agreed to have the pigeon loft removed.  They were talking boundaries when we left.

So this is what we have got

Plot number 19

When I got home I had a look on google earth knowing that they pictures on there are a few years old.  In 2009 it looked like this (it's the one on the end with the lines of veggies)

Looking at that picture triggered a DUH!!! of course moment.  This is one of the very few plots visible from the road and I walked that way a few times in summer 2011.  It was tended back then because I remember being a bit jealous of the owner for having an allotment when I was stuck on the waiting list.  So only just over a year of weeds.  As you can see on the picture a lot of it was lawned. 

We got to work the next day and spent a couple of hours seeing what was what and pulling up a few weeds. My husband spent his time digging inbetween a couple of fence posts and clearing a bit of land.

A lot of what we were pulling up in the first instance was just overgrown veggies.  We found carrots and beetroots and plenty of seeded onions.

My dad came with us that first day and spent a fair bit of time talking to the allotment owner just opposite about how it used to be when all three plots were active.  Sounds as if it was lovely and hopefully we can make at least our plot that way again.  At the very least I want to grow some veggies and leave the lawned bit so the kids can kick their ball about.

1 comment:

Angie said...

Wow have your work cut out ...but as a family project I think you will have fun ...if you have the energy ....Good Luck. xx