Judi Samuels looks back at her work with the Prospects project to bring Allotment 49 back to life.
Judi writes on her blog :-
"My thanks to everyone at the Prospects Project for making me feel so welcome and for sharing a wonderful journey of horticultural discovery and allotment learning. This project sadly has now come to the end but what a year we have had..
My first gardening workshop began inside at the Welcome Centre where the Prospects Project is based. We started in November 2012 with nothing more than some old pots and a handful of bulbs.
I remember visiting the allotment site (plot 49) for the first time and trying hard not to audibly let out a gasp.. for it was very overgrown and neglected.
But as soon as we put our boots on and put our digging forks into the soil, I could feel the group were hooked! We were all determined to make a dent into the perennial and annual weeds that had been left to rule the roost. However, we needed some help so I recommended that we hire a professional ground clearance firm to carry out the initial clearing. This was an invaluable kick-start to the project and meant I could focus on planning the weekly workshops to move the project forwards for everyone. So I set about divvying up the plot into equal smaller plots for each group member to tend and bring to life in their own way.
Each week I delivered a workshop either inside the classroom or outside on the allotment, depending on the weather and what we needed to achieve on our timetable. The workshops were a blend of horticultural activity and setting practical tasks; which ensured we were getting organised on the allotment and the group were learning the basics of horticulture and in particular allotment gardening.
The seed sowing workshops were an absolute pleasure to lead and I can’t thank enough those kind donators of seeds who helped us grow wonderful produce for the Welcome Centre’s lunch tables, which was our aim and as it turns out, the amount of vegetables grown far exceeded my own personal hopes, as you will see in the photo gallery. Just last week Sonia Lynch, Welcome Centre Manager told me “the fruit and veg look great and it just keeps coming!” The group and I were absolutely delighted with this feedback.
Working outside on the allotment really united the group and the joy of allotment gardening soon took hold. Each week we would carry out much needed tasks, such as building the greenhouse, not easy when the instruction manual went missing (of course!), fixing the door on the old wooden shed, building a compost bin, organising the tools and everything else that comes with keeping an allotment. The group loved it and so did I. There was always so much to do and each visit brought more delights of discovery as we all enjoyed spotting the youngest plants develop with each passing week. I could see the group collectively take ownership of their plot and actively take part in the planning and making sure outstanding tasks got done.
I shall never forget watching the joy on everyone’s faces when sowing the seed potatoes for the first time or learning how to plant bulbs; (I wrote a blog about it called ‘Which way is up?’) and the look of sheer delight when the sunflowers opened up their golden faces on a hot summer’s day; or the corn that came up out of the ground to go on to produce incredibly beautiful cobs and the flowers that we grew from seed to attract the pollinating insects.. there was so much to appreciate!
My thanks also go to the stalwart allotmenteers who gave us invaluable advice about how the hose pipe works from the water tank and raising soil lines to create wind breaks for the crops."
For more details, see the original blog post at Judi's blog, and her posts throughout the project, from Nov 2012 to Oct 2013.
The original blog post celebrates the success of this project by publishing a photo album which Judi says "really captures everything that was real and wonderful about this year-long project".