One of the things thats been going on here that I have been most proud to be part of this year is a new allotment site which we created at Shottermill fields. We use the fields for winter grazing for the cattle that are part of our heathland restoration project on Marley Common, but have given over part of the top field for local people to grow food.

I have always been a very keen (if not always very productive!) vegetable gardener and think it is really important to encourage people to get their hands in the soil, it puts you in touch with all sorts of issues to do with the wider countryside.

One sunny day this spring we held a launch event for the new plot holders and their families, the plots were all completely bare and I was intirgued to think ahead and imagine how it was going to change over time.

Lynchmere Parish Council have been our partners in the project and were a great help in getting the whole thing off the ground, one of the local councilors made this fantastic cake to celebrate the launch day.

The allotment association and the plotholders have been doing a great job on the site and as spring turned into summer it was really nice to see the site coming to life. Due to everyones hard work there was an absolute bounty of produce growing by the time this photo was taken in early August.

A couple of weeks ago at the end of the main growing season we had a tidy up event where the hegde was trimmed and there was a bit of a bonfire and clear up session. To congratulate the plotholders on a successful growing season Mark Allery and I sourced a couple of tractor trailer loads of well rotted horse manure from a local stable, this should help things grow even better next year.

Mark is a local pole lathe turner, green woodworker and woodsman, he also helps mange several hundred acres of commonland for The Lynchmere Society as their Commons Manager. His blog site is well worth a look and has lots of interesting and inspiring posts about green woodworking and the local landscape.

I can testify to the quality of his pole lathe skills, he made the handle for the apple scratter we restored as part of the orchard project here at Swan Barn Farm.

Its been great to see what could be achieved in such a short space of time at the allotments, I’m really looking forward to the coming year as I’m sure its going to go from strengh to strength.