We find the whole allotment concept in England quite endearing. What a great way for those with a green thumb to unite! We had a lovely time chatting with Chris about her allotment and what it means to grown your own food.
Name: Christine Chatfield
Originally from: Wimbledon
Lives now: East Sheen
What is the story behind your allotment passion?
I’m a bit of an all or nothing sort of person. If I do something it has to be 100% or not at all. I’ve been growing veggies since I was in my teens. I had a bit of a break when I moved into a flat in my 30’s, but now it’s back to full on veggie growing.
How long have you had the allotment?
I think I’ve had the first half about 8 or 9 years and I’ve recently acquired the other half six months ago.
What do you typically plant? What is your favourite food?
It might be easier to say what don’t I plant haha! I will always do tomatoes, courgettes, a variety of beans and lots of brassicas like kale and brussels amongst other things.
If you mean what is my favourite food to grow and I had to choose one, I suppose it has to be tomatoes. Picking a ripe, warm, organic cherry tomato straight off the plant and letting the flavour explode in your mouth is divine.
“Plant your own victory garden” has almost a different meaning now. What does growing your own food mean to you?
I could go into ecological and biodiversity breakdown, food security and soil erosion etc, etc, but we’d be here all day. So what I’ll say instead is, there’s nothing more satisfying than planting a tiny seed, seeing it germinate, potting it on, planting it out, watching it grow, watering and feeding it then picking or pulling it up and tasting the final product. It’s truly awe inspiring and the whole process gives me so much joy.
Strangest thing you tried to grow?
Last year I grew cucamelons. Won’t be doing them again in a hurry. And this year I’m growing Zapallitos and Tomatillos. Both of which I hadn’t heard of before.
How has lockdown affected your gardening?
I’m thinking of your awesome comment and pic on insta about climate change and where we are going. I may take some of that post for this… it was very thoughtful. Lockdown has been a godsend and has been brilliant as I’ve been able to escape away from my computer and the house and do so much on the allotment. Until lockdown I hadn’t fully realised how ‘busy’ I’d been with my business. Going to the allotment allowed me to slow down and literally be with the earth and the healing power of nature.
Advice for urban Gardeners that may just have herbs in their window box?
There’s always stuff to learn and the best way is to get in there and make a start. Seasoned gardeners are alway happy to give advice, but don’t take what they say as gospel as there’s always more than one way of doing things. Trial and error is the best way to learn. If you don’t have a garden, offer to start a veg patch in a neighbors garden or have pots on a balcony. If you don’t have a balcony you can sprout things in jars on a windowsill. YouTube is brilliant for finding things out and seeing how it’s done. I’m always on YouTube.
Tell us about “seeds of love”:
Seeds of love was a XR event where myself and a lot of other activists were giving out hand made packets of sunflower seeds to passers by. I had a box on my garden wall and must have given away well over a 100 packets. It was a way of bringing joy to the local community and to foster a sense of solidarity whilst we were all in lockdown. It was very satisfying and made a lot of people smile