Keith, Mill Dam Allotments

Keith, Mill Dam Allotments

I’m a retired businessman and I’ve had my plot at Mill Dam Allotments for about five years.

I was looking for an allotment but the waiting lists were long, so I got involved in looking after other people’s gardens as part of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Landshare scheme which closed in early 2016. The Chair of Mill Dam Allotments had seen my name on the Landshare website and offered me a vacant plot.

There’s lots of different reasons why I wanted an allotment: I like to eat locally grown fruit and vegetables rather than those flown in from across the world; I prefer to be physically active outdoors rather than inside a gym; the allotment keeps me mentally active because I set myself little building projects to complete, and a man must have his shed!.

In retirement I’ve found there’s not much work left for me to do at home. Nothing needs fixing, building or decorating. The allotment keeps me busy and I really enjoy it. I usually come to my allotment for a few hours a day about five times a week.

I grow my own fruit and vegetables because I think they tastes better, fresher and more flavoursome. Vegetables like new potatoes, artichokes, and asparagus peas taste divine with just a knob of butter and bit of salt and pepper. My speciality is growing leeks, I love to eat leeks and they always grow very well.

I look forward to the winter months on the allotment. It is the time to get on with any structural projects like making raised beds, moving beds around, getting on with little building projects and lighting bonfires to burn pruned branches.

One winter, I built a lean-to greenhouse against my shed. I’d been saving bits of salvaged wood from skips. A friend had given me a pile of bricks and I’d picked up some glass and a sliding door for free. It’s not very big but it’s enough to grow plenty of tomatoes, grow seeds and small plants.

There is a good crowd of people at my allotment from different backgrounds and all ages. We chat, share seeds, plants and crops and have a cup of tea together. I have a kettle in my shed and some people bring their flasks. During the winter months, one plot-holder usually makes a large pot of tea and at around 10.30am he will shout out Tea’s up and we all gather round for a cuppa and a chat. It’s great.

Keith’s favourite plot to plate: Allotment pockets. Warmed pitta bread filled with spicy stir fried pak choi, swiss chard, peppers, runner beans, leeks, & tomatoes.