The theme this year for National Allotment Week is 'Growing Together' and at Earth Cycle we have spoken to some of the dedicated allotment holders in West Sussex to find out how their allotment has improved their quality of life.
Pauline has an allotment on the outskirts of Chichester. Below she explains what her allotment means to her and how the community environment has helped her through some difficult times.
“I first found out that there were allotments nearby in May 2015. On election day I went to have a look around and bumped into Martin, who has a couple of plots who showed me around.
I'd been suffering from ME for a few years and had been medically retired from work, I also spent a lot of time looking after my Mum who had dementia. Finding the allotments seemed like the ideal opportunity to try to get some of my fitness back and also have some 'me' time - a chance to unwind.
Unfortunately, about three weeks after taking on my allotment my Mum was hospitalised and then subsequently passed away at the end of June that year. During that time Martin kept my plot under control helping with the strimming and mowing.
This is what I love about having an allotment. There is a real community spirit and people are only too willing to help and give advice.
I now have a shed which Martin and a friend helped build and a poly-tunnel that a friend helped erect. In the poly-tunnel I am growing tomatoes of different varieties, chilli pepper, aubergine, courgette, carrots, potatoes, cape gooseberry, green peppers and lettuce. In the ground I have sugar snap peas, dwarf runners, broccoli, pumpkin, swede, parsnip, cucumber, herbs and various fruit.
It has been so beneficial having the allotment, both physically and emotionally. I feel so much better, my joints are starting to ache less and it's given me a fresh purpose. There is nearly always someone to chat to and it's a great way to get to know more people and whilst doing so reap the rewards of your hard work.
Going forward, I would like to be more organic on my allotment which is something I’ll be working on in the future.”
Asta has an allotment in West Wittering and has found it a wonderful form of stress relief. Below she tells us why she couldn’t be happier than when pottering around her plot.
“I first got my allotment at the end of April this year. I grew up helping my family to look after an allotment therefore I felt I had sufficient experience to take on my own.
There are many advantages of having an allotment. I love growing my own organic vegetables as they taste much better and nicer than the vegetables you buy from the shop. I love healthy food and always prefer to eat natural and organic vegetables.
I find working on my allotment very enjoyable and relaxing and love to spend time there in the early mornings or evenings after work. I find it takes away the stresses of the day. I also find it very satisfying to watch the plants grow, enjoy the harvest and share my vegetables with other people.
It is fantastic that is costs so little to rent the space and I end up saving money on my food shop because I grow my own vegetables. On my allotment I grow carrots, potatoes, onions, radish, beetroot, pees, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, dill, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and rhubarb.
I would recommend an allotment to others as it is so easy to maintain and the benefits are absolutely fantastic. Although it takes time it is very manageable and rewarding.
My favourite thing about renting an allotment is eating my own vegetables and berries every day – I love eating straight from the plant – that is superb!”