Meet the allotmenteers
Walking into the allotments in Springhill you will receive a friendly greeting from the characters who cultivate the land within the walled garden. Each plot bursts with life and personality.
Many of the ‘allotmenteers’ have been here for years and have a wealth of knowledge and top tips for all who will listen. All are from the local community and the families have involved their children in all aspects of allotment life, from the older to the youngest.
Jackie and Helen
Jackie Arrell and his wife Helen have grown fresh produce here for the past six years.
‘I am an out-doorsy type, rather be out than in’
Jackie was already a volunteer with the Springhill Estate Team for a number of years when the opportunity of an allotment plot came about. He took over the space and after a bit of hard work he now produces a wide variety of fresh vegetables every year. Jackie is a skilled joiner and was the one who offered Sophie the help she needed when constructing the summer house. Other activities he enjoyed over the years were building the bug hotel with the local cubs and scouts. Whether it was trying to get twenty sheep out of the allotments or just enjoying a cup of heart-warming fresh vegetable soup….
’it’s just great to have this place’
Jamie is a volunteer and although he does not have an allotment he loves coming down to Springhill and helping out with allotment tidy-up days or on the wider estate with whatever job needs to be done. Jamie, a local lad, has a strong connection to Springhill with his late great aunt Henrietta being married to the gardener and living in the gate lodge for many years. He remembers the estate fondly from his younger years, coming up with his grandfather. Nowadays, Jamie comes up to meet his friends and is a big personality within the group. He starts laughing as he recalls putting up Fiona’s fence. She had just obtained her allotment and needed a fence to keep out rabbits. Jamie, Jackie, Jonny, Wilfie and Micky decided they would do this for her…..as Jackie recalls
‘there was never a fence put up like that one was ever before!’
Maybe too many chiefs on the job one thinks!
Wilfie & Barbara
Wilfie and Barbara Kelso were the novices of the group. There was an ‘L’ plate stuck on their plot gate for a time to show their status. But they have proved to be enthusiastic and hugely inventive; they have a go at everything. They introduced to their plot potatoes grown in barrels, compost bins, habitat piles and even bright bunting to ward off the pigeons. They have learnt a great deal and Barbara now knows what a Borlotti Bean is…thanks to her fellow allotmenteer and friend Lynda.
Michael has held his allotment for the past 4 years. When asked about the allotment he cracks a smile and says
‘It’s a great space, good community, made a lot of good friends, grow a lot of fresh produce which is useful…..it’s just brilliant’
Michael was lucky; having to wait only a few months until a plot became available. He remembers the rabbits at the start….so many! Being local, he has always grown on the land, starting at an early age at home with his father.
‘Now I grow potatoes, beets, cabbages, peas, beans…everything really, it’s great’
The McCrystal family
The McCrystal family, headed by Seamus and Karen, have now 6 children, all of whom have grown up around the allotment at Springhill. They have a large plot and would be seen to be the perfectionists! The family keep the plot spick and span and have created a veritable vegetable heaven, complete with traditional lazy beds, sprinkler system, totem pole and they did have an underground tandoor oven! One of Seamus’ fondest memories was of Andrew Stewart on his old mattress digging with a hand trowel!
Lynda and Jonny Pitts have been coming to Springhill for years, as visitors, allotment holders and dedicated volunteers!
They even got married here, so their connection is truly heart felt! Their daughter Maisie was born one evening after Lynda had spent the whole day in the allotments. Over the years they have dedicated a lot of time, hard work, energy and ideas (not to mention the delicious baking and yummy allotment soup!) to Springhill and its allotments. Maisie was recently interviewed for a National Trust feature on our people and their connections to our places.
...and there's more
The Community allotments have offered other opportunities for fundraising ....
Strong partnerships with local council, wildlife groups such as NI Swift Group, Mills of Northern Ireland, Moneymore flax project, Moneymore heritage trust....and many more