As for many people trying to navigate life stresses, allotment therapy comes to the rescue. Isis Carrasco is my current allotment neighbour, and the view of her perfect plot always puts mine to shame.
Under mounting job pressures, Isis found herself seeking some solace. A friend’s suggestion led her to get an allotment. The initial sight was disheartening: an unimaginative plot of land overrun by weeds, broken glass, and stones. On the plus side, it was bordered by beautiful oak woods. Despite lacking prior landscaping or gardening experience, she took on the challenge. That decision proved life-changing; eight years later, one would think she’s an experienced garden designer.
The space transformed remarkably with time, blending elements of an allotment and a garden. It became a place for various crops, changing yearly with new additions of beautiful rockery plants, annuals, perennials and fruit trees. She grows flowers, corn, pumpkins, beans, courgettes, tomatoes, and potatoes. Each season brings the joy of experimenting with new and often unique crops, like the current challenge of growing celeriac. Isis says, “Tasting my home-grown vegetables and knowing I played a part in their journey from soil to plate rewards me immensely.”
Isis always welcomes the small allotment community to her plot, whether for a quick catch-up or a summer barbecue. Last year, Isis created a stunning pot-style cottage garden around the summerhouse, complete with a wildlife pond and a small patch of grass for her lovely dog, Lola. The summerhouse features a kitchenette where she enjoys an evening glass of wine with friends and other plot-holders.
The journey has sparked another change in her life – a career change. The connection to responsibly grown and quality food made her leave behind her role in voluntary sector management, and she joined Suma Wholefoods, a worker’s co-op specialising in organic and fair-trade food. Here, the values of ethical food production and worker rights aligned with her own.
Tending to her plot became a rewarding exercise in patience and diligence. It ignited her creative spark and instilled a profound sense of accomplishment that no other hobby can match. I love having her smiley face there whenever I rush around the plot. I enjoy chatting with her over the fence and, of course, an occasional summer evening beer.