We’re top of the plots

Ernest and Barbara Pointer, also left.       PICTURES: STUART HASTINGS.
Ernest and Barbara Pointer, also left. PICTURES: STUART HASTINGS.

AT this time of year, Barbara and Ernest Pointer spend three to four hours a day, every day, on their allotment.

They have been working the plot off Abbey Lane for 24 years, enjoying the peace and quiet and exercise and being involved in “the miracle of growing things”, as Barbara puts it.

And this year the couple, both aged 67, have reaped something extra – two awards for the best allotment in Sheffield.

They won Sheffield Allotment Federation’s Rose Bowl, which was presented by the Lord Mayor, and the council’s Bolton Cup.

“It’s a brilliant allotment,” said federation secretary Pat Barsby. “I didn’t see one weed and the quality of the crops was great.”

All manner of vegetables (21 types), fruit and flowers are grown on the Woodseats double plot, and the Pointers’ enthusiasm and skills are unbounded. “It’s been hard this year because of the lack of rain,” said Barbara.

“But we spend three to four hours here every day in the summer. Then, in the winter, you are doing your maintenance.”

Even a double heart bypass last May could not hold back Ernest. “He was in hospital for a week and seven days after he came out he was back on the allotment. He came out of the shed with a spade in his hand!”

Barbara, who used be a kitchen assistant and cook, and Ernest, who was a chef, live in Batemoor and won the Rose Bowl last year.

They give produce such as beans, lettuce, tomatoes and cabbages to family, friends and neighbours.

Ernest said the allotment was “good therapy and good exercise. It gets us out and we are there in all weathers, when it is raining and frosty, not just when the sun shines. It’s our main hobby.”

There’s a growing interest in allotments in Sheffield but first-timers do not always appreciate the work that is involved.

“People see the TV programmes and think it’s easy,” said Barbara. “You see them coming down full of enthusiasm, then going away and the pigeons have everything. We have been dedicated.

“It’s just peaceful – and there’s no trouble with the neighbours in the graveyard next door!”

Pat Barsby said Sheffield people had always been interested in allotments, “and it has increased in recent years.

More families are interested and they are showing children how to grow things. They know where their food is coming from. And Sheffield has always had a lot of lady gardeners.”

Demand for allotments varies across the city, with the longest waiting lists in the south and south-west.

“I have been on the waiting list for Archer Lane for five years and there are still 78 on the list,” said Pat.

lColin Wright, aged 70, of Moorview Road, Woodseats, won the Eric Stanley Award for growing produce undercover at his allotment in Woodseats.