The Poly Tunnel & the Portaloo

Two things I’ve not given much thought to before, and certainly never in the same day, have become my obsessions. The polytunnel is a 6m x 3m thing of beauty with a proper door and a ventilation system. It’s dry and cozy when its raining outside and if the sun comes out it warms quickly and there’s a wonderful earthy smell of compost. We have a long scaffold board table and a couple of folding chairs in there and in no time at all it feels lived in and loved.

The portaloo is different. We’d never really considered having one until we noticed the condition of the public loo’s nearest to the garden. Obviously, we pointed it out to the leader of our council Jeremy Birch, our MP Amber Rudd …and Ed Milliband. Something we said must have struck a chord because those loo’s are being refurbished and so as not to un-convenience us the council very kindly offered us the use of a portaloo.

It’s a long story but it turned up and Kevin, who was volunteering in the garden, helped the driver get it off his lorry and through the gates. I wondered whether there was any chance of it being put beside the shed, where it would blend in and not attract passers-by. While we were discussing the idea, a very confident chap appeared and said it most definitely would be possible to lift the loo over the flower bed and put it exactly where I wanted it. He told us he’d shifted loads of loos around festival sites, we just needed a man on each corner. We were one corner short of a team, so I pulled someone off the street and with a mighty heave ho, the portaloo was lifted and put down alongside the shed.

Only later did it dawn on us that our expert advisor had also been “someone off the street,” probably mildly delusional, and not actually part of a two-man team sent to deliver our portaloo.
We didn’t think much more of it until someone turned up to service it, took one look at where it was, sighed then got back into his truck.
And now the time has come for it to go and as you can probably guess, it’s not going easy. Several men have been to the garden, sighed and got back in their trucks. I’m hoping that overnight a very big gust of wind will lift it up and put it down by the gate for a smooth pick-up in the morning.

That would make life nice and easy…and we’d all be able to concentrate on the wonders of our polytunnel.

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Harvest

Very early this year I went along to a community meeting about future plans for St Leonards on Sea. There were consultants down from London to help us realise our dreams, or at least to write them on a white board for all to see. I made a tentative suggestion that we could follow the example of Incredible Edible and grow vegetables to share. Good idea!
We all sat round plotting potential changes we’d like to see on large maps of the town, then the consultants went back where they came from.
And we got on with finding our site, sowing our seeds, asking for favours, applying for grants and getting to know one another over some backbreaking earth shifting, wheeling our wheelbarrows and shovelling our shingle.
The garden opened on 29th June, and a couple of weeks back six of us went along to another Way Forward meeting, where Nicole spoke about the Moveable Feast and presented a Powerpoint display mapping the garden’s progress from derelict site to green and pleasant place.
Everyone loved it but what really brought the house down was Cat stepping forward to whip the cover off this box of vegetables.

These were all picked in our garden on the day of the meeting.
What an amazing harvest from a wasteland garden that’s only existed for three months.

We take delivery of a polytunnel on Wednesday to enable us to stretch out our growing season now and begin sowing for next summer early in the spring.
And if we have to move to a new site we’ll find one, we are The Moveable Feast Community Garden afterall.
Just imagine how much we’ll be growing next year…all we need now is people, seeds and sunshine.
This is our way forward.