Last Sunday, at the end of National Allotment Week, we had what has become our annual Summer Social at our allotment colony. Essentially this is an afternoon gathering at the allotment site for any plot holders who fancy getting together with their fellow Grow Your Own enthusiasts. Our site is only small and this, coupled with the usual August holiday absentees, meant attendance was as ever modest. Still I find this event a reliably cheering experience.
It’s always an opportunity to see some of the plot holders whose plot tending habits rarely overlap with your own. Since the arrival of our little boy in October last year my own ‘cultivation window’ is generally confined to a couple of hours at the weekend when I am given time off for good behaviour. Hence the reason I am often found returning home with armfuls of marrow sized courgettes having failed to pick them frequently enough. Others though are there most days, while yet others squeeze their allotment fix in after work.
At this year’s event we had both someone in their first growing season and someone who had recently given up their plot, it having become too much to manage, but who called by to say hello. It was truly inter-generational with the age range spanning from 10 months to 80+ years and many of the decades inbetween – children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents. I cannot think of many activities or events in my life where the same could be said.
In keeping with tradition we all brought along food and drink offerings for the occasion. There was Beetroot tart, quiche, and explosively spicy Bombay potatoes which resulted in the inevitable toilet paper in the fridge remarks. There was a dangerously quaffable Blackberry vodka, and as ever an overwhelming volume of cake involving Bananas, Raspberries, Lavender and my own submission of Beetroot and Chocolate cupcakes – many of which returned home with us and provided coffee accompaniments for the rest of the week!
It was only a couple of hours and we were blessed with a bit of late afternoon sunshine after a fairly gloomy morning. We ate, we drank, we chatted, we discussed our culinary creations, our successes and our failures during this growing season of weather extremes, and then we all drifted off home. Such a simple and relaxed event, bringing together a few folk who like their veg patch and their shed and some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It can sometimes feel that we are living in a particular period of divisiveness, when based on the news and social media anyway. But on a warm Sunday afternoon at the end of a long hot summer our little allotment Summer Social was a helpful reminder that there is still such a thing as community.