Plot No. 1

I took on my first allotment (referred to as Plot No. 1 on this blog) on the Hagg House 2 site at the beginning of September 2006. It was just before the current allotment boom took off so there was plenty of choice...

The site
Hagg House 2 allotments are on the edge of Sheffield, on the Southern side of the historic Rivelin Valley (which means the site faces North, always a good choice...), and have been allotments since the 1930/40s. Before that it was a farm, which is where the site gets its name.

Hagg House Farm House 1936 - © Picture Sheffield

Once a thriving site with the now abandoned Hagg House 1 on the other side of the road, the site was covered sheds, greenhouses, well maintained hedges and not a tree to be seen.

Picture from some time in the 1970s

Hagg House 1 1976, now abandoned - © Picture Sheffield

Fast forward to 2005. There were just 18 plots let on a site of well over 100, and rumour has it the site was on the verge of being abandoned with plot holders being offered plots on nearby sites. The site had suffered from a lot of vandalism in the past and as popularity of the site declined many plot holders moved to nearby sites - possible attracted by the fact they weren'e clinging on to the side of a very steep, north facing slope. Or covered in trees like much of the site. Not many people realised there were even allotments there.

There's an allotment site in there somewhere - image from about 2005?

After a couple of years of waiting for a plot on Crookes Quarry, I finally convinced the wife we should have a look around the Hagg House site. We parked at the top of the hill and tried to make our way through the site. I left the wife and our oldest near the car as I hacked my way to the lower plots and found a couple enthusiastically clearing a plot. A quick chat later I was convinced to take on a neighbouring plot - the theory being at least I'd have someone for company. Sadly after getting home and ringing the allotment office, the chosen plot had just been taken. A couple of days later I went down and rang up from the middle of the next plot I chose and confirmed it was free.

I saw the people who took my original plot choice twice in the next four years. They never grew a single thing and now it's in a worse state than when I first looked at it...

The beginning

Yes, that looks like it's got potential...
The photograph doesn't do it justice. There was a tree (and still is!) on one side of the plot and a privet 'hedge' over 20 foot tall on the other side, so tall it had bent over and covered about a quarter of the plot. The rest of the plot was covered in head height brambles. Over the course of the next few months I discovered a stone wall on one side of the plot, the remains of a huge old greenhouse (with all the broken glass that came with it) and that you get through a lot of gardening gloves clearing away brambles!

More and more people started to get interested in allotments so a steady stream of people could usually be found wandering round the site on a weekend clutching the map and trying to identify individual plots - no mean feat with our number system even now!

How do you come up with a numbering system like this?

The site gradually filled up, the sound of chainsaws and the smell of bonfires a regular occurrence. I helped to set up Hagg House Allotment Association in 2007 for the site and was elected the first Chair of the Association. Since then we've had a few small grants for things like skips, rockdust, and hedge cutters all of which have helped us clear and cultivate the site. There have also been a couple of Summer Fayre's (complete with hog roast) and our first Harvest Festival/produce competitions

The present
Now it is of course my plot beautifully cleared and cultivated, as witnessed by this blog...