logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 33 - August 2003.

Hooked on allotments
by Gaby Spinks

Joyce Silvera started working her allotment at Grimesthorpe four years ago, at that time she knew very little about vegetable gardening or allotments. She grew garlic and little things at home but never anything as adventurous as what she grows now. I went to visit Joyce on a hot July afternoon, we took refuge in her cool shed while she told me about her days spent digging, weeding and planting her site.

“I’m hooked on allotments, I get such a buzz seeing the seedlings growing, I don’t know whether it’s the open space, fresh air or the view or maybe everything combined but my allotment is very special place.”

Shortly before taking on the allotment her health suffered but Joyce was determined to keep the allotment going. “I’m not packing it in, but I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said at the time but with a little help from good friends and family she’s been able to keep it going now her doctor says, “What ever you do don’t pack it in”.

I asked Joyce what she grew on her allotment and why. I discovered that Joyce plants everything; tried and trusted runner beans, onions, peas and potatoes next to more exotic vegetables such as Japanese radishes, Jerusalem artichokes and new this year asparagus beds. “I’m very proud of those beds,” Joyce says, “and hopefully next year and the following 27 years I’ll be harvesting them”. Recently Joyce has taken over a new allotment next door to hers, “I’m growing more things in here now” she says, “things like miniature fruit trees, and soft fruit”.

As we walk round Joyce invites me to taste some of her produce, we nibble on fresh peas straight from the pod, red gooseberries and I try a new vegetable – calloo – which tastes like spinach. “I like experimenting with new things,” Joyce explains. She’s also very generous with her produce; as I walk away with fresh cucumber from the greenhouse, she tells me most of the produce is given away to family and friends.

Joyce is also involved in Sheffield City Council’s Allotment Advisory Group and the Federation of Allotment Holders. She explains that the Federation is a very important group. “It’s a body devised to protect allotments; keep their statutory status so they can’t get sold off to private developers. It’s very important that allotments stay a part of people’s lives. They provide a very good source of cheap and healthy food for families as well as being very good exercise for the body and escapism for the mind.”
If any one is interested in becoming an allotment holder please contact John Martin, Allotments Officer at Sheffield City Council on 273 4528.


Joyce Silvera attands to her allotment.