On Sunday a handful of us braved the cold, drizzly winter morning to take a tour of Folkestone’s Park Farm allotments, a large established allotment site run by Folkestone Town Council.
Our guide was Jimmy, who has had a plot there for several years and was making good use of the space he had with broad beans planted last November already at a good height and peas doing well in his greenhouse.
It was very interesting to see how this site was run – and the luxuries they had! Our own allotment at Newington doesn’t have such fancy things as electricity, running water or toilets (well, apart from that chemical toilet we found in the shed and still haven’t had the courage to open…)
Allotments are always good places to see innovative recycling and none more so than the Park Farm space, with its communal tea shed built from materials donated by builders working on the new school across the road, homemade planters (a particular favourite was the old barrel with holes cut in the sides for strawberries, plus upturned bottle for watering.) You could see allotmenteers at this site had really made their plots their home from home and put a lot of time and effort into their growing.
Also worth a mention is the concrete area to one side – huge raised beds built from breeze blocks with paving slab pathways. Quite out of place among the muddy paths and ramshackle wooden sheds you normally see. Jimmy explained that this area had been built to make the allotment more accessible – the tall raised beds are perfect for people who can’t bend down anymore, and the paving slabs make it easy for wheelchairs to get through. What a great way to make growing your own produce easier for everyone!
We did notice a few unloved plots that had been left to go to ruin. In some cases the allotmenteer had become ill or sadly passed away, but in other cases the plot holders simply didn’t have time to manage them with family and job commitments.
That’s where a group like Cantiaci can be really beneficial for people who love the idea of having an allotment but don’t have the time to take one on. By tending to our plots as a group we remove that pressure and members are able to still enjoy their free time and go away for the weekend without worrying about weeds and slugs taking over. If you’d like to take part just drop us an email at email@example.com or message us on Facebook. During winter we meet in Folkestone at 10am every Sunday morning and usually work until 12 – 1pm, but when the days get longer often fit in some weekday evening slots too. Of course you would be welcome to pop to the site at times convenient to you, if you can get to Newington and don’t need to carshare.
To rent one of the Park Farm Allotments call Folkestone Town Council on 01303 257946.