Syed, Vicarage Park Allotments
I’ve had my plot for about 16 years. Some years after I retired from working as a science teacher, I happened to be walking past and through the gate I saw a man digging his plot and I asked him how I go about getting a plot myself. He gave me the Secretary’s phone number and I made an appointment to see him.
I came to England from Pakistan in the 1960s, firstly to study and then to work as a college teacher. I have always kept myself busy working and doing lots of voluntary work. I was a Magistrate for 25 years, I raised funding for my local community centre, and I worked in hospitals for a government run volunteer scheme project.
I still do voluntary work. I was Treasurer for my allotment Committee for 10 years and I’m still involved with the Committee. I also established a friendship group where we all meet once a month at each other’s houses and share meals.
My father had a farm in a village in Pakistan. Growing up, although I was usually busy getting an education I was always interested in what my father was doing on the farm and I’d help him in my spare time.
I retired a few years before I had my allotment. There is no space in my garden at home to grow vegetables. Over the years, my wife has taken the garden over and filled it with flowers and shrubs. The garden at home is very much my wife’s territory and the allotment is mine.
I really like having an allotment. Before I retired I had a heart attack and heart surgery. Working on my plot is hard work but it keeps me fit, I get regular exercise and I get to enjoy the fresh air. I can’t sit idle and the allotment keeps me busy. It is a good hobby.
I’ve met some very interesting people at the allotment from different backgrounds and some of them are very experienced and knowledgeable growers. I’ve learnt so much from them about how to grow different fruit and vegetables. I tend to grow things that are simple and straightforward like onions, leeks, potatoes, courgettes, peas, beans, beetroot and sweetcorn. I’m very lucky to have fantastic next door neighbours who happen to be vegetarian and I give quite a lot of my crops to them, and to other friends and family.
Syed’s favourite plot to plate: Baked potato with cheese, beetroot & red onion with a yogurt dressing, and a french green bean salad.