Sunday, 6 June 2010

Posh allotments and garden parties

I went to my first garden party this week. It was quite an exclusive address in North Kensington, just around the corner from PM David Cameron's house, before he moved to no.10. Being a garden party in June, of course it rained, but the combination of flourishing vegetable beds, brightly coloured umbrellas, wellies and cagoules made it quintessentially English.
It was the first summer gathering of the St Quintin's Avenue kitchen gardeners. It must be the poshest allotment in London and if Heinken did allotments, they would probably be like this one.
The last time I visited was a freezing day back in December, when the plots had just been finished and filled with topsoil, so to see it all looking so abundant, and to talk to Anna, one of the founder members, and other growers and hear how excited and enthusiastic they are about their first harvestings was inspiring.
It's all the product of gardenless residents wanting to grow vegetables and lobbying the council. Being an inner london borough, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea doesn't have to comply with the legislation that if enough residents want an allotment, the council is obliged to find land to give them. But to their credit, RBKC found another solution and has given permission to set up small community kitchen garden plots on disused land in the borough.
The St Quintin's group has set up on an old tennis court, and there are now 12 other sites in the borough. In theory, these are temporary plots, with raised wooden planter beds, but seeing how much energy had gone into the St. Quinitin's garden, it feels like they will be growing vegetables on that tennis court for a very long time to come.

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