Allotment Portraits

Aerial View of the Allotments

Below are the stories of a few allotment tenants and their relationship with their allotments.  If you'd like to tell your own allotment story, please email it to the website manager, don't forget to include at least one picture.

Trevor and Deborah Allotment

Trevor and Deborah

Our allotment is in the north-east corner of the Cemetery site. We’ve been the tenants for about 15 years and it has become an important part of our lives, giving us a great deal of pleasure – and the produce has been pretty good too!

We were both still working when we moved into Topsham, choosing a house with a small garden and car parking, and decided to see if we could rent an allotment plot, ready for retirement. We were keen to grow our own fresh and organic ‘slow food’, develop a more healthy lifestyle, have some additional exercise, but also to have somewhere with space to enjoy and the opportunity to meet with other people away from home and work. It has been a success for us on all counts! We enjoy maintaining the plot in many ways: planning, creating the infrastructure (paths, raised beds, fruit cages, compost bins, somewhere to sit and, of course, the delights of ‘having a shed’), digging, composting, sowing and planting, weeding and nurturing and, if we’re lucky, harvesting and consuming. And doing all this surrounded by all sorts of birds and wildlife in a friendly and welcoming environment. There are always neighbouring allotment holders with whom to trade surplus plants or crops, swap advice and discuss the weather prospects.

We’re not all that adventurous with our planting, but each year we try to have a mixture of vegetables ( potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots, courgettes, leeks, broad and dwarf beans), salads, fruits (strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants) and a few flowers (the dahlias are nearly always good). We regularly bring our vegetable trimmings up to the allotment and add them to our compost bins and try to get some farm manure annually to keep the soil well-fed and productive. Then there is a lot of weeding and watering to be done, but still find the time for a coffee on the bench and someone to chat to.

Problems? We have had a few failures, some caused by hungry snails and slugs or greedy pigeons, but mainly due to inadequate watering (worsened by having adjacent thirsty trees). Then there’s the problem of getting back home late as there is nearly always someone to chat with on the way out through the gates……..

Allotment portrait Helen and Bob

Helen and Bob

We moved to Devon in 2018 after living in France for 12 years and were lucky enough to secure an allotment on the Butts Park site.

We have always enjoyed growing fruit and vegetables and have worked on several sites over the years. Returning to the UK meant we had to relearn what varieties to plant and when . Luckily there is a always someone around to offer helpful advice . Having an allotment is a wonderful way to relax and get fit and you get to enjoy the benefits of the harvest.

There is nothing like the taste of freshly picked vegetables. Most of our diet is vegetarian which
we feel enhances our healthy lifestyle. Recipes are often swapped with neighbours on the plot.
In addition to vegetables we inherited raspberry canes and have planted blackcurrants and
thornless blackberries . It is always a great pleasure is to give surplus to friends.

When the hard work is finished our plot gives us a great place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.  Although the birds can be a nuisance it is lively to sit quietly and hear their songs.

The additional benefits of having an allotment are social. We have made great friends here and enjoyed the activities that The Allotment and Garden Society offer each year.  One of the highlights of the year is the annual Show. We haven’t managed any prize winners yet but it is always great fun to enter and admire the exhibits.

During this difficult time of the pandemic of coronavirus our allotment has given us a daily sense of purpose . It really has kept us well physically and mentally.

No dig raised beds

David McLintock - No Dig raised beds

David Mc Lintock has written a comprehensive article sharing his experience creating "No dig" raised beds you can read it by clicking on the picture