The sky is grey, the earth is slightly damp, and the temperature is resolutely in the mid-teens, all of which makes for decent enough growing weather. This week saw the formation of the Fitz allotment society (if you can think of a catchier name, or even better, an acronym, we are welcoming all suggestions!). Composed of grads and undergrads, and under the watchful eye of green-fingered gardener Steve – who, thankfully, actually knows how to grow things – the society will be managing the five raised beds behind Wilson Court, not just for the benefit of the students who garden there, but for the whole college.
The ethos is simple. The beds will be a space for anyone to use simply by joining our mailing list, and we would like the results to be shared as widely as possible with all students. That might be individuals grabbing some parsley to pop in their supper, courgette cakes for the JCR and MCR to enjoy, or a pumpkin pie cooking session when autumn rolls around. It will be a space for people to learn more about gardening, to take some time out from the stresses and strains of Cambridge, and to have a real sense of community. As far as possible we’ll be running the allotments completely organically, and if slugs decimate our lettuces, or snails our herbs, then we’ll consult everyone who uses the beds on how we’ll solve the problem.
As we’re already well into the gardening year and it would be nice to have some tangible results before the summer, we’ll be starting off running communal beds with produce available for anyone in college to use. At the moment, we’re envisaging that to be herbs like parsley, rosemary, coriander and lovage, as well as flowers to brighten up the café. Steve has also very kindly been nurturing seedlings in the greenhouses next to the Master’s Lodge, so we’ll have a headstart with those too. From September, we can start making longer-term plans for the whole year. That might be covered raspberry canes for next summer, polytunnels for tomatoes, cloches for cucumbers… At the moment all we have is soil and a spadeful of optimism, so we’d welcome suggestions from everyone.
Finally, allotments are obviously pretty productive over the summer months when lots of undergrads are away, so it would be great to see as many grads as possible involved. Just think, first pick of all those lovely summer vegetables… Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to the mailing list if you would like to know more!