Stephen, Normanton Allotments
My allotment is central to my life. Since I was 8 years old I have been coming to Normanton Allotments. My dad had a plot and he made a small square plot just for me. I would dig it, plant it with flower and vegetable seeds, and keep them watered. I would get so excited seeing how much they had grown.
As a teenager I helped dad with the digging and harvesting. Then as an adult I took on a vacant plot next to my dad’s plot, and we carried on coming to the allotment together. When my dad died I kept his plot along with mine, and later took on a third vacant plot!
When I found out that a house that backs onto the allotments was up for sale I bought it and immediately put in a garden gate that leads straight onto the allotments.
Working as an engineer involves me being indoors all day often in rooms with no windows. When I come home after work I walk straight through my garden and onto the allotments. I usually meet several people and stop for a chat. Normanton is an area with diverse communities and on the allotment you get to meet interesting people from so many different countries and cultures.
My allotment principle is ‘little and often’. Having three plots is not difficult for me because I do short bursts several times a week. When I see little weeds coming up I just hoe them lightly and they’re gone. If you leave them to grow you can end up spending days digging them out.
I was brought up on home-grown vegetables and it’s all I’ve ever known. I cook myself simple, basic meals. I grow things like onions, potatoes, carrots, and broad beans which I love. I harvest a lot of apples and plums most of which I give away to very appreciative friends or family, and I usually get back a jar of homemade jam.
About 20 years ago I joined the Committee and later became Chair. It was a real eye-opener for me because as a plot-holder you’re just focussed on your own plot and I was amazed by the amount of work involved in running a site. We have achieved a lot in recent years. An overgrown, unused area has been transformed into a fantastic wildlife garden that local schools come to visit. We had half-plots and now have even smaller starter plots which have been a huge success. We’ve just started a charity garden to grow produce for the homeless, refurbished our shop, and we are organising our very first Open Day.
Stephen’s favourite plot to plate: Gammon, new potatoes, young carrots, and small tender skinned broad beans.