A unique site

I often walk by our town’s allotment site, but have never visited, despite the beckoning scarecrows and the colourful riot of flowers which adorn its fronting wall.

Well, now I have, and I think that this site is an absolute treasure (see my picture above). Human and natural worlds co-exist in harmony, all interwoven.

It really feels like it has been 60 years in the making to have achieved this balance, and it is so, so peaceful there.

The sheds and the compost heaps are particularly fascinating, growing out of old bits of windows, doors, a bedstead, all migrating across the road from the terraced houses whose community these plots initially served. Then there are the chairs, dotted around, ragged, lychen encrusted, well used.

The sheer variety of produce grown here also amazed me. Rows of beans standing tightly to attention, with raised strawberry patch boxes at their feet, fronted by a blaze of colourful flowers destined for vases to brighten up neighbouring living rooms and kitchens.

Among all this, people quietly worked, picking their crops, digging over spent ground, planting, calling “chickee chickee chickee” and feeding their chickens.

Hear the bees humming and the birdsong, see the butterflies, try not to tread on the grasshoppers and crickets, watch the cats hunting.... and, peep under discarded bits of plastic in amongst the nettles and straw-like grass. There, in those warm dark places, are the slow-worm nests. See them knotted together, all pinky- blue, and beautiful.

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The mixture of tidy plots and debris, hedgerow with fruit trees, sheds full of old men’s cobwebbed trophies, weed and cultivar, all make this a complex and very natural environment which both people and wildlife thrive in. It is all so very English!

Just like our town, we must look after it, protect it, because it is unique. It is Budleigh Salterton.

Mo Bowman

(via email).