Zulf, Normanton Allotments

Zulf, Normanton Allotments

I’ve had my plot at Normanton Allotments for about 9 years. My dad and I worked on it together and when he couldn’t look after it anymore I took it over.

The idea of having an allotment came to me after watching a lot of gardening and allotment TV programmes. I was curious and wanted to give it go.

I work full-time as an engineer and the allotment provides me a complete contrast to work life. It’s an escape from the modern world and all its stresses, and very relaxing after a hard day at work.

My allotment has a gated entrance, trees all around the boundary and it’s a naturally relaxing environment. You could easily just pull out a deck chair and enjoy the greenery.

Many people go the gym after work but I’d rather be working on my allotment in the fresh air. Digging, running up and down your plot, fetching water, to me that’s equivalent exercise to a gym session. The bonus is that you’re outdoors and you can pick crops to take home and say I grew this -which is very satisfying.

I grow my own vegetables because they taste better, more earthy and full of natural sweetness. Once you’ve tasted the delicious sweetness of freshly picked, and immediately cooked, sweetcorn or peas you don’t want to give it up.

My allotment site has been here for about 100 years or probably longer, and generations have worked my plot, fed the soil and reaped its rewards. We have a plot-holder on this site whose plot has been in his family for almost 100 years. He’s had the plot for over 40 years and he took it over from his father-in-law who in turn took it over from his father. I took my plot over from my father and I’ll be pleased if my children decide to continue this tradition.

My children enjoy coming the allotment, seeing the wildlife, picking and eating peas and fruit, digging and getting their hands dirty. I think it is important for them to appreciate where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

Over the years you learn which crops do well and which crops don’t reward the effort you put into growing them. My experience of growing melons, okra and aubergine have been hit and miss but my chick peas do well along with the more traditional allotment crops.

Zulf’s favourite plot to plate: Chickpea & potato curry, chapattis, mint & onion yogurt, and a side of grilled corn on the cob with a sprinkle of lime & chilli.