Tending an allotment provides and an oasis of calm in the city
- Monday 16 June 2008
- Article history
I’ve had my allotment for nearly a year now. I put my name down ages ago then forgot all about it until I got the call. It’s kind of tucked away behind a fence and people don’t know it’s there so it’s become my oasis, or secret garden – the place I go to be by myself.
My grandparents were keen gardeners. Poppa’s striped lawns were immaculate and his potatoes were delicious so I guess they had a big influence on me.
Because I work freelance as a fashion stylist I can go down during quiet times in the week and tend to my plants. Right now I’m planting the seedlings that I’ve been growing at home: broad beans, onions, garlic, raspberries, strawberries and herbs to name a few.
When I’m down there I do chat to the people around me but I’m not interested in getting into everyone’s business. I ask for advice but mostly I make things up as I go along and it seems to work. I also think about what my nana would have done.
Many of the other allotments are really immaculate but mine has a certain eccentric charm that reflects the personality of the woman who owned it before me. The visual impact it makes is important but I also like the fact that it’s belonged to someone else and that I’m eating the artichokes she tended. When I go down in my biker boots, German shorts and my Turkish headscarf I suspect my fellow allotment holders think I’m a little nuts too.
I recently did a course on composting and everything I grow is organic so it’s very different to the fare in the supermarket. I incorporate it onto my daily diet rather than being “all hail the allotment” about it. That said, the strawberries never make it away farther than the gate – I can’t resist them.
One of the ironies is that where I used to spend a fortune on poppies and forget-me-nots from the flower shop, now I’m overrun with them on the allotment, but I really have little to complain about. There’s something profound yet reassuringly normal about learning how long the fruit and veg take to grow and how they’ll taste. I don’t know why councils don’t do more to support allotments. Nothing is as calming as this.
· Tamara Cincik was talking to Maia Adams.