More than just a patch of earth

As we draw to the end of National Allotment Week, I wanted to share with you my latest print and the inspiration behind it.

This is a redesign of one of my original prints. I think it was the third one I did after the simple messages ‘Eat Your Greens’ and ‘Grow Your Own’. It was my most heartfelt and honest. My plot is certainly all of these things to me, but then it’s so much more.

It’s somewhere to escape to, a hideout when I feel the need to get away from home for a while – as someone who works from home, the back garden isn’t always far enough. It’s a project, and I am very much a project loving girl. I enjoy a challenge, something to get my teeth into (quite literally in this case) and I like to have the creative freedom to make something my own. It’s being surrounded by nature, which has been proven to be very calming to a busy mind. It’s a healthy dose of fresh air, exercise and occasionally a bit of peace and quiet, but then it’s also socialising with like-minded people who, no matter their background, are on the same level playing field (again quite literally) as you. It’s very grounding and humbling, it’s a continuous learning curve, it’s frustrating at times, but equally satisfying too. Yes it’s hard work, but it’s hard work with organic vegetables at the end of it as a reward. You don’t get that from the gym. And wow do those vegetables taste good. Picked or pulled up and eaten within hours or even minutes, they have far more nutrients as well as flavour. It encourages you to eat healthier, turns you into a pro preserver before you know it, makes you appreciate the seasonality of crops with a hungry anticipation for the first taste of each crop as it comes. The supermarkets have robbed us of that simple pleasure. It also satisfies my inner eco warrior, with no food miles or plastic packaging on these veg. My kitchen and garden waste gets composted and turned back into the soil, and apart from some manure (green or otherwise) and liquid seaweed feed, nothing more is added. It’s a chemical-free haven for wildlife. My allotment is one of the best journeys I’ve embarked on, and it’s my pride and joy.

But I know I’m not alone in my crazy allotment love fest. Allotments are in demand from people of all ages, sexes and nationalities. A search under #allotment on Instagram throws up over half a million posts, showing how far they’ve come from the brigade of retired men. But they are even more important to some people. They’re a lifeline in a stressful world, a sanctuary for those dealing with depression, a haven to escape from grief and anxiety, and a healing balm for those in recovery from a multitude of health problems. I’m lucky not to be in this camp, but I can completely understand how gardening helps.

Below are a few links to some of my social media buddies with their personal stories.

This is Kirsty’s account of her struggle with mental health and how an allotment helped:

Katie’s passion for her plot shines through in this little blog post:

And if you’ve been inspired to join us in the happy allotmenteering camp, here are some top tips from Tanya at Lovely Greens:

Happy gardening!

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