My mum has had an allotment for over ten years now, and I'd never taken much of an interest beyond gratefully receiving her surplus produce.
This all changed in May 2018 when she encouraged me into becoming her plot neighbour.
When I became a mum, five years ago, I was lucky enough to not have to return to work. In my 'past life' I'd been the breadwinner of the family and, like many mothers, as time wore on, I felt like I was starting to lose myself and my identity - especially after the birth of my youngest child. It was then, eighteen months ago, that I decided to take on an allotment.
It has given me the space, both physically and mentally, that I craved to learn new skills and remind myself of what I am capable of achieving. It has also enabled me to feel that in some way, I continue to provide for my family by quite literally putting food on the table.
The plot is a continually evolving beast; the subtle changes with each visit are a constant thrill and there is an enormous sense of achievement in witnessing your hard work actually bear fruit. The benefits of the great outdoors are well documented and something of which we are all aware. Before becoming a plotholder I would always find an excuse to avoid going outside if there was a threat of rain or a slight wind. Now, the call of the plot is strong - even half an hour there can transform a bad day into a good one.
For me, the allotment has been hugely beneficial for my mental health but it has also had physical benefits for the whole family. We eat in a far healthier, seasonal, manner (courgette, anyone?) and I love that we have all developed a deep connection to the food that we eat and grow together.
For anyone thinking of taking on an allotment: do it. It may well be the best decision you ever make.
Author credit: Jane Bilham