Steve, Vicarage Park Allotments
About 15 years ago, I started with a half-plot at Vicarage Park Allotments and later took another half-plot.
I’ve always liked gardening and grew up with my father’s vegetable patch and my uncle’s allotment. They used to give me sixpence for mowing the grass.
Before I retired 7 years ago I worked as a cardboard packaging designer and I’d come to the allotment after work in the evenings and at the weekends.
The allotment is very much my domain. It gives me peace and quiet, time to think, and time not to think at all. I get a lot of positive energy back from my allotment, I can see what I’ve done and feel proud, and feel better all round. I get good exercise, fresh food and I’ve made lots of friends here.
Some months ago, I had my leg amputated below the knee because of a broken ankle. It was a traumatic time in my life. People were saying that I might have to give up my allotment but the thought of giving up was too depressing. My brother, and others, have been looking after my plot for me.
I’ve been using a wheelchair to get around. The first time I came back to my allotment I thought I can’t do this. The second time I decided to use a kneeling pad and have a go at kneeling down to work on a small patch. That worked, and it gave me the confidence to move from one patch to the next. Other people must have thought it looked painful but I was okay.
I’ve just had a prosthetic leg fitted. I feel fantastic and I’m now confident I can manage my plot. For the first time since my amputation I’ve walked from one side of the allotment to the other. It was difficult and tiring but it’s another positive step forward.
When I first got my plot, my allotment mentor advised me to keep my grass paths wide enough for a wheelbarrow. I’m so glad I heeded his advice. My plot is right next to the entrance gate and the paths around my plot are wide enough for my wheelchair. I like to keep my plot looking tidy anyway so I’ve always kept my grass paths flat and well-maintained. Had I not, I would’ve really struggled at the allotment on my wheelchair and may well have had to give it up.
Steve’s favourite plot to plate: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, green beans & peas. Followed by gooseberry tart.