I’ve just eaten the allotment. It is inside me. For supper I had mash made from the last of the potatoes, greens: spinach, curly jack, sorrel and oriental greens, and a yellow courgette.
As well as providing food for the stomach the allotment gives food for thinking, food for feeling. It is an open space apart from the day to day. On my visit today I thought about the 2 weeks’ residency to come. I looked with slightly different eyes at the grass, the earth and the sky – I stared at them. I looked at the water in the baths and the metal of the empty wheelbarrow. I decided I will start each day of the residency by standing and staring. I will see what happens, what I notice, what I think. What I noticed today was the clover. There is a mass of three-leaf clovers. I love them. There is no need to search for a four-leaf clover, all the luck you need is here.
CHECKING MY BOUNDARIES
My recent work has been concerned with location and locating oneself; finding one’s place. A little while ago I worked on a project in which I was looking at strategies which blind and visually impaired people use to locate themeselves, to get a sense of the space which they are in. One blind person explained to me that to understand an indoor space, she liked to walk the length and breadth of the room, touching each wall to "feel" the space.
On Wednesday I walked the boundaries of the allotment, feeling the extent of our space, marking the boundaries with string looped around tall canes. Remarkably, the perimeter of the allotment was exactly equivalent to one whole ball of string.
ANOTHER PRIZE AWARDED
Autumn has arrived on the allotment. Leaves, flowers, vegetables are dying back. The juice is retreating into the earth. I was struck by the beauty of some deaths. The dead heads of the artichoke stand proud, strong, brown. I have one more prize to award. The MERIT goes to this dead artichoke head. This one has to represent the team of heads. I remember the brightness of their purple hair in mid Summer. But their silvery brown crowns stand up straight and true.
LAST PREPARATION DAY
We have had our last prep. day. We hauled pallets from the garden centre car park – they may be the start of our shelter which we will build next week. However we decided to put up a white gazebo on Monday 1 October, the First Day of our Residency – so that we have immediate shelter from rain and a place to lay out materials.
I have become interested in the original measures used to lay out allotment plots – rods, poles, perches – all these measure the same i.e. approximately 5.5 yards. Many old measures came from using the body like a ruler: a cubit is the average length from finger tip to elbow; hands are still used to measure horses. A foot needs no explanation. I decided to measure my allotment with my body. I loved lying face down on the grass and earth, like kissing my allotment. The plot is 12 bodylengths long by 4 bodylengths wide.
Crops were also used to measure: 3 barleycorns = 1 inch. I used runner beans grown this summer: the plot is 110 runner beans long by 47 runner beans wide.
On our last preparation day 3 weeks ago, using canes lashed together with string, I tried to make a 3D drawing of the shelter we hope to build. The result was a wonky bamboo frame which wouldn’t stay upright long enough to support the outline of a roof, a strong reminder of the need to develop my design and construction skills.
Last week I visited the Eden Project and was pleased to be able to take a close up look at a very solid bamboo construction together with information on various ways of using bamboo to build strong frames, walls, floors, roofs and screening panels.
Also at the Eden Project were wall paintings by two "vegetalistas" from Peru depicting the intertwined relationship between people and nature.