The good life: Visitors swarm to Upminster allotment open day

Artichoke, butternut squash and lavender sugar were just some of the more unusual fruits of the land on sale at this year’s Stewart Avenue Allotments open day.

But it nearly wasn’t to be for the Upminster plot holders after this year’s washout summer.

Site secretary Janette Watts, from Hornbeam Avenue, said: “We lost a lot of crop due to the very wet weather we’ve been having and the allotments were looking very messy because people haven’t been able to tend them.

“But luckily the weather picked up in the last week and, after a flurry of activity in the last few days, we were ready just in time.”

Around 500 people were given tours of the site on Saturday and were able buy home-grown goods from fruit, vegetable and flower stalls, as well as wares from craft stalls.

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There were also information stations where budding gardeners were given growing and harvesting tips.

Others put their names down on allotment waiting lists, and now organisers have decided to split plots in half to deal with the high demand.

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Plot holders sell their produce every third Saturday of the month, between March and December, and more frequently during the summer months.

Janette, who helped organise the open day with Brenda Middleton, said: “We were pleasantly surprised by the numbers who turned up, it was very busy and the atmosphere was buzzing. The weather really made a difference.”

Janette, 50, said she joined the allotments five years ago, after moving to a new house with a tiny garden - and now has a flourishing patch of vegetables, wildflowers, and herbs.

“At one stage I was killing everything I was growing but I’m definitely getting better. There’s a great community atmosphere at the allotments and people are always on hand to give you advice.”

For more information about the alloments and its sale days go to:

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