There’s an allotment in my garden


By - Tuesday 6th October, 2015

Saffron isn’t all that grows in Croydon. Tom Black has carrots, some carpet, the works


Photo author’s own.

I’m serious. There’s an allotment in my garden. The garden of a terraced house in Coulsdon. A garden once used by Edwardian railwaymen for whatever Edwardian railwaymen did in their gardens. More recently, a garden used to play swingball and dry clothes.

Like many ‘recent graduates’ (an increasingly broad term that I am fairly sure will mean ‘anyone under 35′ in a few years), I still live at home with my Dad. He and I are not what you might call ‘serious gardeners’. Nor, to be honest, are we what you might call ‘people who care about their garden’. We like a nice walk and a pleasant breeze as much as the next suburban lefties, but the patch of green behind our house has never been of great interest to us.

Things eventually escalated to the point that we would not have been surprised to discover a Japanese soldier living in there, still under the impression that there was a war on. When words like ‘industrial flame-thrower’ are being brought into a conversation about your lawn, you realise that a rethink is in order.

All we ask is a few vegetables every now and again

Step forward Stephen Black. Homeowner, Citizen contributor, teacher, and My Dad™. He heard on Radio 4 some months ago that there’s a growing trend for people who have gardens but don’t use them to log onto Landshare, a site that does pretty much what it says on the tin. As luck would have it, we never had to go that far. Our neighbours three doors down, Rosa and Maurice, mentioned to Phil-at-Number-21 that they were looking for an allotment but were having some trouble. Dad had already mentioned his desire to put something on Landshare to Phil-at-Number-21, and so the connection was happily made.

Within two weeks, Rosa and Maurice had got to work. The jungle-like growths across the lawn were the first to go, and soon soil began to take the place of grass. Then a carpet was laid down – apparently this is a thing that you do. You then cut holes in it to mark out and separate the various crops that you’ll be growing.

For Rosa and Maurice, it’s all free. All we ask is a few vegetables every now and then. Being able to walk through our garden without worrying about booby traps is reward enough, as well as the warm feeling we’ve got from helping someone do something good and sustainable.

More people should do this

Maybe you get a lot of use out of your garden. If so, this obviously isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you have been reading this and thinking ‘what a lovely idea, I’m sure that someone out there could make use of my lawn’, then pop on to Landshare and see if there’s a fellow Croydonian near you who is desperate to grow some peas. Or carrots.

Or, as we did, you may find that you don’t have to go looking on Landshare. Ask your networks. Talk to your green-fingered (or Green-voting) friends. Chances are that they’ll know some people like Rosa and Maurice.

There are a lot of gardens in Croydon. Let’s see what we can do as a town. Whatever happens, it’s a better idea than trying to build a garden on a bridge over the Thames.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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