The allotment (black perspective)

I was listening to and reading discussions relating to black people leaving cities in the USA and being pigeon holed into the suburbs and countryside, with not much idea of how they can work the land,  and it made me think of my own background in the UK and the Caribbean.

My parents both Jamaican, would farm small plots of land as children, with my family on my mums side beings live stock and vegetable farmers, selling crops and stock to the market in Savannah La Mar or Negril in Westmoreland, Jamaica. Though this is happening less and less in the village or neighbouring villages where she comes from due to the increasing US materialism influence plaguing the West Indies.

In the UK as a child I grew up seeing all my older relatives having allotments in the north and regularly spending Sunday afternoons in green houses attempting to grow some jamaican and caribbean vegetation with mixed results. My parents still grow vegetation in their garden as I’ve noted previously my parents garden having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a small plot of land.

The issue here is the older generation are not encouraging younger people to grow food. My aim when I leave the south east of the UK is to have an allotment and to grow most of my foods using the sciences and knowledge which I have gained from the older black people I have been around. This was a given that most older black caribbean people grew their own food as young people and in the UK as adults with skills they learnt as a child.

In a climate of food being less organic and more expensive this is important. Inner city folk are less likely to have space or the capacity to grow food but some vegetables can be grown using plant pots. The more we remain reliant on the system for food the more vulnerable we become even if growing our own food is to supplement our diets we can learn to eat seasonally and know how to use the soil for our nutritional benefit.

The one thing I learnt is horse manure and sawdust are great for compost. My dad carries runs of this in his boot in the summer pulling it outside the house preparing it to be used to fertilise the ground. If planting food has another benefit it keeps you fit digging up the garden.

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