Hi- today was the Manchester Drive Allotment Society's open day, and Ron
Bates and I were invited to both sit on the 'Gardener's question time'
panel, along with 3 other more 'mainstream' 'gardening experts' (tho I don't
think Ron & I would put ourselves forwards as 'experts' by any means...) to
give the alternative/permacultural angle...
We were also invited to give an 'alternative tour' of the site, as a
counterpoint to the 'other' tour which was more about pointing out the prize
winning plots, best kept trimmed edges, etc, so had an opportunity to show
off our respective forest garden plots to, if not a huge crowd, at least an
appreciative handful of folks who seemed to find what we had to say of great
interest and were able to realise that what might appear to be chaotic and
unkept is actually orderly, planned and productive.
Highpoint of the day was when Ron found a slow worm in his compost bin,
which delighted the children present. Some other folk seemed impressed by
the relaxed and calm attitude of forest gardening, though we were careful to
stress that there is nothing intrinsicly WRONG with neatness and (aesthetic)
order- allotment sites should be open to a diversity of approaches (but
chemical gardening should still be discouraged...)
We were both able to explian that our plots are vegan organic in their
management as well...
We also looked at janet hammond's 'conventional' organic plot as well, she
sits on Leigh Town Council, the Manchester Drive Allotments Committee (as
well as Southend's Local Agenda 21 forum) and is very supportive of what Ron
and I are trying to achieve, which is very heartening.
As i said not a huge amount of folk turned out for the tour, but those that
did were inspired, and I think encouraged by seeing that there are other
ways of allotemnt management than growing neat rows of leeks and cabbages...
Local Leigh On Sea artist and allotmenteer Howard Robinson
asked permission to do
some artwork, either drawings or paintings of the forest gardens, we were
only too pleased to say yes- watch this space...
And I sold 2 books- all in all a sucessful day :-)