I thought it would be good to start the new year with a blog on the Tyndale allotment. This time last year A, L, C, Z and I were observing the effects of a trowel being bashed against a trough filled with ice water. The boys chipped away until finally with a whoop of joy and delight the ice finally gave way with an almighty splash to the freezing water below. There is something wonderful in watching children persevering with a physical struggle and seeing it pay off. I’ve seen it at the allotment with ice, with planting seeds, with digging holes, with rescuing a tree from ivy, with watching broccoli grow slowly. There is a slow, determined pace to the boy’s work here that is continuously rewarded by achievements no matter how great or small. It’s been over a year now since I have been taking children to the Tyndale allotment. With a trusty assistant in Mrs Khan, Mrs Todd, Ms Brown or Mr Strutt we generally take a group of about 5 or 6 children to the allotment which is a 10 minute walk away. Our plot, number 6, is easily spotted by its gate clinging on by its hinges, an insect hotel and a series of raised beds the children have cobbled together from bricks and wood.
Through sun, rain, snakes, dormice, snow and ice we have planted onions and garlic, made campfires, planted seeds and bulbs, watched the daffodils come up, and harvested our own home grown potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and beetroot. The children have then gone away to make pizzas, soups, garlic bread and a whole host of other tasty dishes from our modest harvest. The act of growing, cooking and eating food that you have watched from just being a tiny seed is a dying art but throughout the year we have seen bountiful harvest through it.
And this is not just in the actual physical harvest. The children’s mental and physical health have also apparently improved. With one child commenting that “going to the allotment is my favourite part of the week.” The children’s capacity to dig those pesky weeds up with more gusto and energy as time has gone on has been a joy to witness. One child ensures that he comes prepared with welly boots and rain jacket on allotment day- planning ahead to save his precious trainers.
I have become increasingly convinced throughout this process that the more time the children have spent outside in all manner of weather, the more prepared, willing and enthusiastic they are to keep going and push themselves. As the temperatures and we stand again pensively in the frozen wasteland of January, I’m reminded once more of A and L quite literally breaking the ice into the new year and the bountiful harvest that a year at the allotment has brought. As a new term and year begins, we breathe the cold air into our lungs and, filled with exhilaration, pick up our trowels to face the ice and the allotment once more.