Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

A Sunday spent gardening

May 2, 2011 · No Comments

This past Sunday, I took a stroll down The Avenues to the allotment.  The allotment is a product of the Norwich, Grow Our Own, sustainability initiative.  On the allotment, the goal is simple.  Increase sustainability by growing organic fruits and vegetables.  On the allotment, there are scores of plots, a 3×10 foot space, available for rent from the sustainability initiative and there is one communal area, bigger than two plots, where things were grown and plants were kept for others’ use.  On each plot, one can grow whatever they please.  Most grow fruits and vegetables, but some have rented out multiple plots and grow food in one, flowers in another and place a small fish pond in another.  The English love gardening, so most gardeners on the allotment also maintain a garden at home as well.

When I arrived at the allotment, I was eager to get to work.  For, despite it being a sunny day, it was not quite as warm in Norwich as Barcelona (I had arrived the day before) and I was looking to get my garden on and warm up.

My first task was to take a wheelbarrow of compost to two beds that were soon to be planted.  Then, I was to take two wheelbarrows of manure (they call it ‘muck’) to each again and then mix it in with the compost.  This last step was necessary, for the manure contained many nitrates, which would bake in the sun and thwart any potential growth of the seeds to be planted.

After that, we broke for tea.  As I sat there, I found there to be no other more typical English Sunday.  Drinking tea and gardening on a lovely Norwich morning.

Then, it was back to work.  I was given the task of “digging out” a patch of gooseberry bushes.  I was not sure what this meant, and I kind of botched it, but I talked to Bridgette and it was all fine.  It took awhile, but I basically removed the weeds from around the gooseberry bushes and gave them some water.

Then we broke for lunch.  Luckily for me, it was the first Sunday of the month, meaning all of the gardeners of the allotment had a shared lunch.  There was loads of delicious food and great conversation with the other gardeners.  I remarked how English I thought all of this was.  One gardener said, “Gardening is English, sure, but the allotments and the shared lunch isn’t very English.”

I thought about this and, of course, Kate Fox’s “social disease,” but looking around at all of the members of the allotment, I couldn’t really see it, maybe they had just moved passed all of that.

After lunch, I was back to work, but given more entry-level tasks.  I took more wheelbarrows of muck and compost to three more beds and then worked around the communal allotment area pulling weeds, cutting high grass and removing nettles.  All of this was more caretaking than gardening, but I was quite happy to do it.  I was very impressed with the sustainability initiative and was grateful to be a part of such a rewarding activity.  English or not, I had a great day.  When I left, Bridgette gave me some organic spinach that was grown in the communal area.  I cooked it the next night in an chicken-spinach egg-white omlette.

Date:  May, 1, 2011

Time:  10:00-15:00

Hours:  5

Supervisor:  Mahesh

Categories: 2010 Luke

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