Sowing the seeds of friendship at Vale Road Allotments

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Allotment gardening not only produces fruit and veg but forges fantastic friendships as well.

If you go down to Vale Road Allotments in Haywards Heath you will see why it is so addictive, but there is one question you should never ask: “Why do you like coming here so much?”

“To get away from the wife” is the familiar chorus.

There is something addictive about the male camaraderie and gentle banter of Vale Road’s seasoned allotment holders, which has echoes of BBC sitcom ‘Last of the Summer Wine’.

John Gill, who has been an allotment holder for nearly 31 years said with a smile: “Years ago there were just men down here but now you get lots of children and more women - it keeps the language down!”

Long-time gardener Mick Botting joked: “My wife Val has got ‘Head Gardener’ on her jumper and she lives up to it - she’s the boss!”

Banter aside, fellow stalwart Tony Hardy said: “It’s great to see children here at weekends and more women taking on allotments.

“You can be virtually organic and if you are a novice you learn more by asking and watching than by reading advice in a book.”

Tony, who is on his second stint as chairman of the Vale Road Allotment Society, is one of several experienced gardeners who are friendly, approachable and always willing to give tips when asked.

The society holds a treasure hunt for youngsters in the summer, a family picnic and vegetable and flower competitions, with the emphasis on fun.

See our special feature on the allotments in this week’s Mid Sussex Times, published on March 20.

If you are looking for tips, the society has a blog on its website: spanglefish




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