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  Jane Crick at her Felsham allotment. Read her views on page 67
Liz Hodder and her friend took on their allotment in Fornham All Saints over ten years ago. Struggling to balance their busy professional lives with the demands of their plot, they developed a philosophy in which ‘you do the minimum amount of work for the maximum yield’. The strategy appears to be working - they have just harvested a pile of onions and filled two carrier bags with beans.
“There’s nothing like taking home things you’ve grown yourself. You cook it and you eat it within half an hour of picking it - it’s wonderful!,” Liz says.
Liz Hodder (above) with raspberries from her Fornham All Saints allotment
“My favourite thing to grow is probably the squashes. When you see 40, 50 or 60 of them all lined up in the garage it gives you a good feeling - you think ‘I can get through the winter now’.
“When I first came, there weren’t that many ladies here,” Liz says. “When me and my friend took on our plot, I petitioned and we got an eco loo put in.
“It acknowledged the fact that it’s not just retired gentlemen up here. I think traditionally that’s what it’s been but with programmes like Gardeners’ World lots more people have been inspired.”
Sarah Field-Rayner got her plot in Fornham last year, after seeing Monty Don planting up sweetcorn on TV. “I thought ‘oh my god, I’d love to do that!’” she says.
Everything growing on her allotment today was started from seed or tubers at home during the January/February lockdown. “My kitchen diner was full of germinating seeds and young plants for months,” she says. “I may not do this again next year but it was a good experience for planting up my first full cropping year.”
Alongside many varieties of fruit and vegetables, Sarah’s plot is home to a large flower bed that’s in full bloom. “I’ve grown them to attract the butterflies and bees, but they’re also for my wedding
in two weeks’ time,” she says. Sarah follows the 'no dig'
method, a way of growing that is also popular amongst the allotmenteers of Great Barton.
John Light has had his
allotment on the site for two
years. “You try and disturb as
least as possible, that’s the
idea,” he explains. “Wherever
you go, there are weed seeds in
the ground that have been there for years and years. If you disturb an unused piece of ground, the next year you’ll get weeds coming up
- particularly the poppies.”
James Thomas says he no longer follows the traditional practice of ‘earthing up’ around the potatoes on his plot. “When they’re on the plate on a Sunday, it doesn’t really matter, does it?” he says. “I’ve got loads of potatoes this year. You get a glut of everything when you grow - I keep telling people that all our neighbours now disconnect the doorbell and shut the curtains - ‘saying here he comes again with more courgettes!’”
Another keen potato grower at the Great Barton allotments is Mike Shave. “This is the Arran Victory,” he says, pointing to one of the rows on his plot. “I haven’t dug it up yet but I’ve had that now for two years and I’m keeping it going - not because I necessarily need them or want them but because it’s a heritage variety.”
Mike is one of the organisers of ‘Potato Day’, an annual event at Stonham Barns where around 100 different varieties of potato are shown and sold to raise money for Suffolk Organic Gardeners - a cause he is passionate about. “When you get to my age, you look back and see the damage that my generation has done to the planet. It makes me sad, angry and determined to do everything I can to try and wise people up,” he says.
Bob Denny has had his plot for seven years. “It hadn’t
grown anything when I took it over,” he says.
“There was a fair bit of rubbish on there but the first year we still grew stuff. It got better the
second year - it took a while but it’s just using
ordinary organic farm manure isn’t it?”
Bob says he likes the sociability of spending time on the allotment. “Even in winter, those
who dig like John and ‘ 65

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