RETRO: Grow true satisfaction

Allotment Staveley - 14th August 1967
Allotment Staveley - 14th August 1967
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They provide the ultimate in fresh food, are picturesque and peaceful - and offer an escape from the madness of everyday life.

Generations of Sheffield families feasted on bumper crops from allotments long before anybody worried about eating five a day.

Jack Burkinshaw allotment prize winner 1984

Jack Burkinshaw allotment prize winner 1984

From runner beans to chrysanthemums, the city has boasted some brilliant displays of all things growing.

There have also been plenty of battles over the years though. Today there are lots of problems with vandals but everything from rabbits to rampaging weeds can also make the lot of an allotment holder an unhappy one.

But never question their dedication, as shown in this article published in The Star on August 14, 1984:

Come sun, rain, hail or snow, Jack Burkinshaw is to be found each morning - bar Wednesday when he goes fishing - on his allotment overlooking Abbey Lane Cemetery. “I’ve been here waist-deep in snow,” he says, “because it’s hard work in winter. That’s the busiest time.”

Tom Bell, aged 84, is pictured on his vandalised Jubilee allotment in Cantley'21st July 1993

Tom Bell, aged 84, is pictured on his vandalised Jubilee allotment in Cantley'21st July 1993

It is not altogether surprising that his ‘pride and joy’ has become a landmark, with gardeners coming from far and wide to look at it and to ask advice.

For Jack, now 71, has been there 45 years, since he and his father took over the plot in 1939.

And last year, for the third time, he won the city allotments’ federation rose bowl for being Sheffield’s top allotment gardener.

A former toolroom foreman, he had always tended his garden well, but it was only when he retired six years ago that his hobby became a daily pastime.

“It’s a good hobby. If it wasn’t here, I’d be sitting in the flat, getting under the wife’s feet all the time!”

He grows rhubarb, raspberries and blackcurrants, lettuces and cucumbers, sprouts, cabbage, onions, beans, peas, marrows and sweetcorn.

But the latter, like some of the plants, have suffered from the weather so Jack isn’t holding out any hope of retaining his title this year.

But he is still, literally, reaping the benefits, with freezers full of fruit and vegetables.

“It’s a pleasure, the allotment,” he says.

“And to sow seed, grow it, pick it and then eat it, means you’ve achieved something.”