It is early autumn and we have just finished three crazy days on our allotment site, Bowbrook Allotment Community. Three very exciting days. It all began with measuring sunflowers for our annual Sunflower Competition where we determine which child and which adult has grown the tallest plant and the biggest flower. Just like last year the children showed the adults up when it came to growing giant sunflowers. For Little Henry here it was quite an effort to inspect his flowers. His plants outshone all others, children’s and adult’s alike, with the tallest plant towering to almost 3 metres and the width of his largest flower head measuring 33cm. We definitely have a gardener of the future here!
While measuring the sunflowers my mobile kept ringing and as we wished to concentrate on the the job in hand I left it ringing each time until we stopped for our afternoon tea break. It was a most unexpected phone call when I did answer it, all about the BBC trying to organise for one of their film crews to film on the allotments starting at 5:30 on Friday morning. This was because that night the RHS were holding their “Oscars”, the Britain in Bloom awards and Shrewsbury were in the running with 71 other towns and cities to be crowned Champion of Champions. They wanted to know if I could arrange for the results to be announced at the allotments, should Shrewsbury win, as we were a key part of Shrewsbury’s entry. This was all at the request of the RHS.
A call at 10:00 in the evening informed us that Shrewsbury had indeed won and our allotment community gardens had been singled out for specific praise. The idea behind the early start was that the BBC wanted to announce the results during their early morning news coverage. The news was to be broadcast every half hour throughout the morning and they they wanted to film it all live from our site. Their “weather girl” was to make the announcement and talk to plot holders.
Our first job was to get the site opened to allow the crew to set up and get some BAC members there as well including a mum and her son. This involved getting up at 4:30! We did it but I still don’t know how! The first announcement of Shrewsbury’s success went out live and was filmed in the dark. Gradually throughout the period of filming the sun came up and the birds came to life. Our allotments looked great and we felt really proud. We had been singled out as a special element in our town’s success.
In the photos below Carol was learning her lines, consulting with the director and the lights were set up in the blackness.
Two plot holders featured in an early slot still in the gloom. Mandy and son Elliot did us proud, with Mandy extolling the virtues of the town and our allotments and Elliot speaking up for the children and their “Roots and Shoots” club.
The BBC outside broadcast studio in a van slowly emerged from the darkness as dawn broke.
Life got easier as the sun came up. Alongside the arrival of the light came a sudden burst of bird song which quickly grew to a crescendo.
I listened carefully to instructions from Carol with Mark and Gary from the town council property department alongside. Constant discussions went on between Carol, the camerman and the director.
We went home for a few hours rest before returning to prepare for our Halloween celebrations the following day. (see the next post for details of how it went)
The RHS sent me their press release which went out to the media and on their website on Friday just as filming had begun. As chairman of the allotments I felt so proud as I read it. Included was a photo of one of our families on their plot. The children live here with their parents but in this photo are their grandparents who come from their home in South Africa each summer and spend time on the family plot.
“RHS judges were impressed by the high quality and importance of horticulture in what is the home-town of the “grandfather of popular gardening”, Percy Thrower, and the birth-place of Charles Darwin.
One Shrewsbury project that stood out was Bowbrook Allotment Community Site. As well as accommodating 88 organic growing plots and an impressive series of nature trails, individual gardens have been created to educate young people about native plants, conservation and edible growing.”
To read what the world’s most important horticultural society had to write about us made me feel so proud of what our community has achieved so quickly. Just over 5 years ago all we had was a field and a vision.
My next post about our busy days on the allotments will be all about our celebration of Halloween, so some of the photos will be in the dark again. Night time darkness this time though instead of early morning!