My Little Allotment: growing veggies, well-being and an online community

Kirsty’s Lincoln allotment turned around her mental health, ignited a passion for growing, and over the past four years has inspired thousands of people, through her social media following. 

I talked to Kirsty about what motivates her, and how her experience as an allotment holder has transformed her life.

Growing from childhood

Like so many of the allotment growers that I have spoken to, a seed was planted in Kirsty’s childhood.

***message to all adults: take the kids to your allotment; plant a garden with them – it all starts somewhere!***

Kirsty’s parents had an allotment where she spent time as a kid, and although she didn’t gain the know-how at that stage in her life, it laid the foundations – the feeling that an allotment was a good place to be. 

She’s still learning from her mum and dad who have a nearby allotment, and so are her children!

Gardening on Instagram

When Kirsty applied for her own allotment in Lincoln as an adult, she was in a very low place with her mental health. 

Nonetheless, she started browsing books and the internet, and following gardeners on social media to get some ideas and tips. It wasn’t long before those first interactions led to a lively online community of growers. 

She has documented her allotment ever since. It makes for a beautiful instagram feed – the colours, the variety, the progression through the year. And literally thousands have joined her on the way! 

So Kirsty learnt from other gardeners on social media, and in return she inspires and encourages others, in a virtuous circle. 

But which comes first, the growing or the communicating? I asked 

Technically, she opened her instagram account before she received the allotment key, before the first seed went in the ground. But that’s not what drives her. It’s the enjoyment of growing veg and flowers. The social media is secondary.

“It’s all about the allotment,” she tells me. 

Therapeutic gardening

As many gardeners will attest – gardening becomes almost compulsive: trying out this idea, messing about with little area, working with nature to create a garden. It’s a constant dialogue with the earth. You get lost in it. 

Being outdoors, enjoyable exercise, being creative – we KNOW these things are good for our health – especially our mental health. 

For Kirsty, her time at the allotment became – more than anything – a therapeutic journey: one of powerful and unexpected healing, as she learned to live with PTSD. 

“I was so ill, I could hardly do anything, I could hardly look after my kids. And the allotment turned everything around. It was just me and the soil,” she told me.

The experience of watching plants grow – germinating from a seed, through the seasons, and die back in winter – that teaches you something about life. It makes you feel a greater connection with the world. It’s hard to explain – it is so simple, and yet so profound. 

What next?

More real world benefits continue to flow from that simple start. 

Kirsty has been recruited for various gardening projects, my favourite being a community growing project at Sleaford station. 

Produce from the allotment is gifted freely to friends, neighbours and strangers at Mint Lane Cafe. “I just want as many people as possible to have this good food.” 

And more plans are afoot for food growing in the local community… you’ll have to watch this space!

#EveryoneCanGrowTheirOwn

Join the movement towards health, community and fresh veg for everyone:

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