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.
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
If any one is interested in becoming an allotment holder please
contact John Martin, Allotments Officer at Sheffield City Council
on 273 4528.