On Monday after school, I visited Maria’s allotment; she has been working on the plot for over a year, since her Dad passed away and she describes it as a ‘place of reflection for the whole family’.
Here’s her story, written by me, my Mum and of course, Maria
Maria’s Mum and Dad, Francesco (Frank to his mates) and Nella are Italian and they have had a plot since the 70’s. Frank loved to feed the family and would dedicate large chuncks of his plot to single crops, like potatoes, so he could distribute them to family members. Maria has fond memories of going to the plot, when she was a child with her brother, Giuseppe and then later, with all their kids. They loved helping out and all of them say they were weaned on “fresh, organic veggies“!
Frank had his own vines and a cracking shed, in which he turned the grapes he’d grown in to wine. He had chickens, a small brazier to cook and brew espresso, lots of fruit trees and bushes and a really productive veg crop. Sadly, Frank died in February 2016 and for a while his plot lay untouched.
As the weeds grew and grew over the spring, the other allotment holders wanted to know, what was going to happen and said, that the tenancy was at risk. My Mum and Maria were out one night and Maria will tell you it was the 10th June 2016 ‘cos it’s a really significant date to her. She said to my Mum, that she needed to make some tough decisions, she found it too difficult to visit the allotment, yet didn’t want to give it up.
Maria was still very sad and really missing her Dad; so my Mum said,
“Gardening is a great thing to do when you’re feeling really sad, it’s good for the soul – go tomorrow or you will never go, get down to the allotment, get stuck into clearing the weeds, clear it up, grow some veg and it will help you feel really connected with your Dad and it will continue his legacy”
and on the very next day, 11th June 2016, that’s just what she did!
…..just look at the fantastic job she’s done (with a lot of help from her family too) she’s growing carrots, camomile, sweetcorn, peanuts, melon, tomatoes, broad beans, artichoke, raspberries, figs, blackcurrants, plums, apples, pears, strawberries, celery and potatoes, lots of potatoes, just like her Dad did!
It’s totally a family effort – Maria’s husband, has since got the gardening bug and really helped with all the hard landscaping, her nephew, Ramon laid a more accessible path and her boys help whenever they can. More importantly, her Mum comes down, sits in the sun and reminisces about the great times she had there, with her husband.
At first, the other allotment holders, were a bit ‘grumpy gardener’ towards her, but then they said “oh, you’re Frank’s daughter” and then they started helping with tips and advice. She showed me round the other plots, via the paths and their produce, chickens, polytunnels and greenhouses were amazing.
I love allotments, they just make me feel all happy inside. I like how all the plots are different, how gardeners use different techniques and grow different crops; like how some dedicate their whole plots to flowers, like dahlias for example.
It’s a great set up, her Dad’s shed is like a dream to me and Maria has made herself right at home and even makes bacon butties there sometimes!
Check out these vines, they are awesome.
And here’s Maria’s Mum, enjoying the sun, the views across the moors and the robins that visit the plot.
Maria has some great plans for the future, including a small pond, which I hope to help her build. Continue to enjoy your allotment Maria, you have done such a great job and your Dad would be really proud of you x