BLOG: My allotment and me. A teenage love affair that keeps on growing…
To mark National Allotments Week, Liverpool’s cabinet member for Climate Change Cllr Daniel Barrington has penned praise for his plot and shares his tips on growing produce.
I’ve always loved being outside and have always been interested in gardening. My great-grandad was a keen gardener and we think I inherited his green fingers.
When I was 14, I discovered that there was an allotment site a 10 minute walk from my home. My mum got in touch with them and asked if there were any plots available and if I could have one. They were a bit sceptical about a 14 year old coming on to the allotments, but my mum assured them that I was really interested.
I got my plot at the Knotty Ash Allotment in January 2005 and got working on it straight away. At that time, it was a very much what you would think of as a traditional allotment site, mainly older, retired men. They soon got to know me and were always coming to give me advice on what I should be doing. Allotments have their own little community, people will help each other and you build friendships with people.
Sixteen years later our allotment site looks and feels very different. I’m still one of the younger people on the allotments, but we now have a wide range of people from different backgrounds.
It’s lovely to see lots of families on the allotment site and children really interested and getting involved. I now have two plots and grow a wide range of things. I dedicate a lot of space to growing squash, they can grow a bit wild, but it’s worth it. Winter varieties of squash can store for six months. They’re great roasted and I make a lot of soup with them.
I like to store as much produce as I can, I freeze a lot of veg and make jams. There is nothing better than the feeling of eating something you’ve grown and you can’t beat the taste! I don’t just grow fruit and vegetables though, I also grow a wide range of flowers, it helps pollinators. Poppies have been self-seeding on my plots and every year, I leave dozens of plants in and it’s great to see all the bees on them.
It’s a hugely gratifying as a gardener to see the direct impact you have on supporting nature and the environment, and I smile to myself how my plot has helped to inform my politics.
I still love coming to my plot, especially after work. It’s a place where I can come, switch off and relax. It’s also a great form of exercise and it’s helped keep me in shape. I also love the community atmosphere and I’ve made a number of close friendships with people.
However, having an allotment is hard work! You must be willing to put in the time and effort, battling the weeds in the summer isn’t easy. If you can put in that time and effort, then it’s well worth it!
Even if you can’t manage an allotment, you can still grow your own at home. A lot of veg grows well just in pots.
Help us celebrate National Allotments Week! If you have an allotment, please post a pic of it on Twitter and tag in @LpoolCouncil saying why you love it.