At Leeds Minimalist Club last month, we talked about simplifying our lives. As I mentioned the other day, I’m really keen on focusing my time on the things that really matter to me, so simplifying is a great way to focus and make time for my passions. One of which is the allotment. Or, should I say, allotments. Plural…
I’ve had my first plot for eight years. I’ve put hours of toil into it, and my children have played there ever since they were born. I’ve got my beloved cordoned apple trees, raised beds, herb patches and much more. My memories are interwoven with every square foot of soil. In contrast, the new plot is mostly covered in creeping buttercup, with an old pear tree, some compost bins and a giant sage plant. There’s a huge amount of work to be done.
But I like the new allotment site. It’s huge, with over 200 plots, compared to just four on my first site. With that comes a sense of community — a shop, seasonal shows, bee-keeping courses, and chat over cups of tea every Sunday morning. I’m encouraged by conversations with plot neighbours every time I visit, and am inspired by the variety in management styles and plot designs that I wander through on my way to dig out all that damn buttercup.
My original plan was to manage two sites. Yep, with my work and family and everything else, I wanted to manage two half-allotment plots on two different sites across a city. Last week I visited my first allotment, and in the quiet, I had time to reflect on it. On my relationship with it. As any allotment holder can tell you, they’re much more than just a piece of land. Being an allotment holder is a part of who I am. But, sitting at my old plot, I asked myself this:
How should I feel about this allotment? And, how do I really and truly feel about it?
I should feel happy, proud, contented, peaceful, glad. But all I feel at the moment when I visit my old plot is stress. Stress that it isn’t what it could be because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Anxiety that my plot neighbours are annoyed with me for not managing it properly–one of them has sprayed weedkiller along the edge of it, so I know that’s true. And, when I’m truly honest, I know that the plot belongs to an old life, a previous relationship and a different home. By trying to keep it as well as my new one, that I’m just making myself unhappy.
And so, with a lot of tears, I’ve decided to give it up. I’m taking what I can with me, including my apple trees and whatever structures will make the journey, and saying goodbye. It’s like the final piece of closing the door on my old life.
Yes, my new plot is mostly buttercup. But it will become more than that. It is a place to make new memories, where my boyfriend and I can grow a future together (pun completely intended!). Where my kids will again have a patch of their own. And where I can feel happy because I’ve made the decision to simplify. To have one great allotment instead of two poor ones. Plus, now someone else gets the chance to make memories of their own on my old plot, which is a nice thing to remember.
For ages, I’ve resisted giving up my old plot because it felt like failure. But it’s not. Knowing when to quit is definitely a positive thing. I’ve put myself back in control of my life, and after the tears, I’ve realised how much tension it was causing in me. There’s definite relief to have one less complication in my life. This feels like the start of a complete new allotment journey, and one that I will be sharing here. Each month, I’ll update the blog with photos on our progress. I’m excited all over again…