Taf and Mimi from London, England

“We are a London couple who are trying to be kind to nature and seeking a healthier environment. Taf is a member of the London Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums and Mimi is a Potter.

We were very much influenced by our backgrounds and upbringing. We come from smaller cities and since living and working in London, we have missed enjoying the food we grew with our own efforts.

We are mindful of the need to gain, sustain and maintain a healthier lifestyle, which starts with what we consume daily. It is very much evident that spending time outdoors and being active has additional mental and physical benefits.

Our growing space is 136 sq/m allotment (rented allocated space specifically for growing plants). Our goal is to acquire organic produce which means implementing the organic concept (organic origin without the aid of biological soil and pest control) from preparing the land, planting the seed to harvesting the produce. With the odd seasons we have in England, we tend to till the soil and remove the weeds in spring simply with a garden digging fork and hand and 4 – 6 weeks after the seedlings have settled. We feel this is adequate time keeping the soil nutrients, structured and aerated. In the time we have been at the allotment, we have managed to practice crop rotation and companion planting with permaculture traits, also contributing in controlling pests. Also, the utilization of natural fertilizers such as wild stinging nettle and comfrey has been magical.

Our attitude of “organicness” applies to the origin of the produce. We have propagated mainly by using seeds from the food we purchase from markets, cuttings, division/separation and rooting plants from places we visit, friends and family. This is cost effective and justifies the purpose of growing food rather than relying upon purchasing from supermarkets. We only ever purchase seeds online when we have struggled to find what we wish to plant, considering our obsession of growing uncommon species and exotic produce. From the produce we acquire, we share our seeds with our friends and neighbours i.e. seeds that come from cucumbers, pumpkins etc.

Our biggest hurdle is the unpredictable weather we have in England. Weather is what we often complain about. Inadequate heat/sun, humidity, frequent high winds and sporadic rain during what should be summer, hence the need for polytunnels and/or greenhouses.

It can take years to acquire an allotment and we consider ourselves lucky to have one. During the height of COVID19, the space has been our safe haven, a place to retreat and recuperate. All our worries are left outside the boundary fences of the plot. There is always something to do.

We share our produce with our neighbours, however, it would be fruitful to share to the wider community, support food banks and those who wish to learn or adopt food growing skills. Taf is a beekeeper and hopes to bring a beehive near the allotments to help sustain the bee population and bee-friendly pollination in the surrounding areas.

Growing food is very easy, so long you have soil, a container, water and patience. This can only fuel your mind and body.”