I'm happy today because this morning I met with Jenny, overseer of the allotments that turned out to be just five minutes walk from where I live. I have put myself on the waiting list for an allotment of my own, which, says Jenny, could actually happen any time between next week and 30 years from now. I feel patiently optimistic.
Jenny is evidently a master gardener. Her own plot is bursting with a staggering variety of edibles: raspberries, lettuces, cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, fennel, dill... I lost track. She also keeps chickens, chickens who seemed happy and approachable and about which, in principle as a vegan, I have still to make up my mind. Jenny makes jam, chutney, preserves: I asked her if she sold any of her produce. She said no: she eats, freezes, pickles or shares it all. She has an indeterminate number of children.
The allotment site also includes a small orchard, where Jenny showed me gauges, apples, redcurrants, plums, and a shed. All sheds smell the same: woody and damp, spidery and homely. I could live in a shed, I think, quite comfortably. I wanted to take lots of pictures, but I didn't.
On the first Sunday of the month, the allotmentiers (there are about 20 plots) meet and help each other out, drink tea and share produce from the orchard. Volunteers are welcome and wanted, which tells you exactly what I'll be doing next Sunday.
Jenny even told me of an old, Irish man who has a plot that isn't very well looked after (she showed me it; it wasn't) who might even be willing to share. She implied, but did not say, that I could be the one to share. Not sure where that puts me in the waiting list, but I ambled back home with a big grin on my face.
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