This small allotment site began its present life as a patch of spare land unwanted for building, possibly because a stream, now culverted but still prone to overflowing, ran along one side of it.The year was 1916 , when thousands of men were dying in the trenches across Europe as power-hungry rulers contended for greatness at the expense of their people's lives. At a time when U boats were trying to starve Britain into submission there was a need for home grown food.The site was established and divided into plots twenty five yards by ten divided into two by a central road.
I cannot help but wonder who had my plot before me. I took over from a man named Stevenson, who had grown tired of gardening, but of my other predecessors I know little or nothing. I am pretty certain that the first tenant was a woman, most of the plot holders were female at a time when men were away.I know not her name or whether she was a war widow toiling to combine doing a job, bringing up children and growing some extra food, probably potatoes, leeks and onions, to feed hungry and possibly fatherless children. Who knows, there are no records.
The Second World War saw the land tilled as never before, but again by one unknown to me. All I can say is that the plot I have had no trees, for I have added them over time. Nor were there usable greenhouses, which I have set on the plot.There was no pond and consequently no frogs
I speak of my predecessor's ordeals as a way of setting the present situation into context. We have had a few weeks of pandemic, whereas my precursors had years of war. Situations have changed much over the decades. I am the fortunate one compared to these folk.
But there are constants that run through time. The robin still comes seeking grubs. It is not the same robin as my predecessor saw in 1916, though I am convinced that she saw one, but the robin is England's national bird, an aggressive little creature who fights for its territory. How typically English! I see her as a sign of hope.
The wood pigeons cuckercoo from the trees lining the nearby road, and the grey squirrels gambol on the plots, scampering for safety when they see me. Whether there was a fox in 1916 I know not, but there is still one now,for she has left her paw prints on my black geotextile mulch and occasionally rooted in one of my raised beds.The bumble bees still come annually. All of these are signs of the ongoing vivacity of nature,testifying to the essential goodness of creation.
We do not own the land. We take what is handed down to us so that we can hand it on to the future, passing on the baton,as it were.Hopefully, when the time comes to pass it on it will be in better condition than it was when we received it.