Jeanie at the Bideford Sustainability Group allotment

Why I love my allotment

The most low carbon food is organic, seasonal, and locally grown.  What better way to eat than through home grown fruit and vegetables.

If you have no garden space, the next best thing is an allotment. However, that’s not always so simple as there can be long waiting lists and the thought of doing all the work yourself can seem overwhelming if you have no gardening experience or have a busy life.  That is where shared allotment schemes can help.

Here in Bideford, the Bideford Sustainablity Group (BSG) have 2 community orchards and a shared allotment. Open to anyone in the local community. There are heaps of similar schemes all over the UK.

We spoke to Jean from BSG about her experience of being part of the shared allotment scheme:

How long have you been involved with the Bideford Sustainability Group?

I joined when it started 2 years ago.

What was it that made you join the group rather than get your own allotment?

When I was first looking there weren’t many allotments available. I am glad I chose to follow the BSG option. It’s given me a chance to get to know more people locally and I’ve been able to learn so much from the other gardeners who have been growing fruit and veg much longer than me. Before I joined the group I knew about growing flowers but nothing about growing veg. Everything I know about growing veg comes from volunteering on this plot and the people at BSG. My first crop was broad beans and I was chuffed to bits.

Are there any other benefits from volunteering on the plot?

I get a good proportion of my vegetables from here. For 2-3 weeks I’ve had peas and beans fresh from the allotment everyday. It’s not just saving money, home grown veg somehow tastes better. You can eat the peas and beans raw, they taste so good. And we’ve got strawberries. For tea last night I had potatoes, broad beans and peas, all from the allotment. We’ve had lettuce, spring onions, shallots and strawberries. We lived on purple sprouting broccoli all through the winter. It makes me feel so wonderful.

There are also health benefits to sharing the allotment.  We have someone coming here who was in a real bad place, he has since been able to come off his anti-depressants because his mental health has improved so much, partly down to being involved in being outside & working with others.

It has done me the world of good. I had a heart attack 2 months ago & I couldn’t wait to get back into the garden. Getting out and being active has really helped my recovery. I just love to be down here. Everyone going past says hello. I’m so fortunate to be able to come here.

We hope this discussion with Jean has inspired you to look into food growing projects in your area. If there aren’t any, how about starting one up?