horticultural therapy

Lewes Community Allotment - 20 year celebration in pictures

By Emma Chaplin

What a hot day, but a beautiful one for the 20th anniversary celebration for Lewes Community Allotment. Sarah had done lots of preparations for the event, with great support from Felicity Ann, Penny and other members. On the day, Maggie, Mark, Sue, Common Cause director Topsy, myself came early to help make it look beautiful, with bunting, displays and refreshments.

There was a stunning array of lovely homemade cakes and other treats brought by members, including courgette, carrot and marmalade cake. Drinks included elderflower cordial and apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard.

We were joined by the Lewes Mayor, Janet Baah, her PA Fiona and Allotments Secretary Emma, who came to celebrate with us, to show their support of our work, and admire the displays.

During the morning, we had lots of other visitors drop by to visit the site, including the Edible Eastbourne team. A number of people expressed an interest in becoming members.

Our shed boasted a lovely display of Maggie Lambert's fantastic photos and St Nicholas Day Centre drawings. Unfortunately, support staff there felt it was just too hot for them to attend safely.

Thanks to everyone for coming, and to everyone who helped.

Summer Session at the Allotment

Luckily there was a bit of cloud cover on this particular mid-July Wednesday morning, because very hot weather can make it tricky for the St Nicholas group at the allotment. Sarah and Felicity Ann had prepared some activities in the shade, including digging potatoes, looking at some of the reference library and making/decorating name badges for the Allotment Open Morning on 25th July.

Some people did some trimming back of brambles and clearing, tidying up the entrance area to the Allotment.

Tourist Information Window - celebrating three years of Flourish

We decided to celebrate three years of the Flourish project with a display in one of the Lewes Tourist Information Centre windows. The Lewes TIC is situated in the centre of town, so lots of people see it, and many service users can take a look as they pass by.

We wanted to involve users in the display, for it to be entertaining and engaging, to tell a story through pictures, in the most part, and to show what we do, offering positive images of people with learning disabilities and mental health challenges at the sessions that we run at our three sites.

We included quotations from service users about how they'd felt after their sessions in the 'clouds'.

The overall look of the display was designed by graphic designer Suzie Johanson. Photographer David Stacey helped with lots of the planning and thought processes, and did a fantastic job compiling letters of the project using photographs. Michi Mathias created the pictures of the horse and stable door as well as the apple tree and apples that you can see in the photos, representing Baulcombes Barn and Ringmer Community Orchard. Lewes Community Allotment is in the centre, represented by a hazel obelisk, as well as two watering cans, two trugs (one full of knitted fruit and veg on loan from Brighton and Hove Food Partnership), and various gardening tools.

A team of myself (Emma Chaplin, project manager), Suzie, Michi and Lois gathered at the TIC with handfuls of props to set everything up. The TIC kindly lent us the astroturf, and we used the struts and fishing line to dangle everything. We stuck the photos up with push pins, added apples with blu-tac (which I got upsidedown to start with!) and laid out all the other bits and pieces, adding straw and the knitted veg. 

We've included a number of wildlife creatures we see at the allotment in the window for people to find - including a blackbird, a caterpillar, a bee, a hedgehog, a lizard and two butterflies.

Michi also created a fantastic poster which features various animals from Baulcombes Barn as well as quotes from members of Bluebell House Recovery Centre, who attend regular sessions.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped! It was Maggie's idea to do it in the first place in the TIC. Thanks to Lois Parker, for the great butterflies and lizard, and for helping out with the window set-up. James McCauley, who heroically helped with sorting, editing and printing all the project photos (on the post on the left hand side). Arnold Goldman lent us a trug, as did Anne Turner. Janet Sutherland lent a watering can and old seed packets.  Billie from Leadbetter and Good, who lent us the pig.

And thanks to everyone in the Tourist Info, who have been so helpful and supportive. 

A Visit to Plot 22


It was a great pleasure to visit Plot 22 in Hove last week. The person who developed this beautiful community allotment near Aldrington train station is Emma Houldsworth. Here is their website, and it's well worth taking a look, listening to the audio portraits, and the Year in the Garden photo diary is brilliant. Lovely recipes too. They call it a 'little oasis' and that's exactly what it felt like. Our lovely community allotment is high up on the Downs, has breathtaking views and is a healing, nurturing place to be. Plot 22 felt equally nurturing and good for the soul, and the two allotments share many things...

  • being a safe, welcoming space
  • teaching about gardening according to organic principles
  • growing food that is shared
  • aiming to be sustainable
  • having community membership
  • supporting local wildlife
  • having at least one pond
  • excellent sheds
  • firepits

...Plot 22 nonetheless has a somewhat different feel. It was women-only the day I was there. They have some indoor space, which feels quite cosy and contained. There are greenhouses and a covered seating area. They always eat a meal together. And their composting loo is a thing of beauty! I loved that is was 'twinned' with another loo.

I really enjoyed meeting some of the allotment group, sharing tea and delicious homemade apple tarts. Then we had a tour. There had been a first frost, so these chaps needed digging up. They are called Yacon and are an unusual type of potato.

Yacon potatoes

Yacon potatoes



Emma told me that they had a lot of teasels growing all over the place, but needed to have a bit of a tidy up/weed. They didn’t want to deprive the birds of food, so one of the group had the idea of hanging them up in a tree instead so that the goldfinches and greenfinches can eat the seeds.

Emma gave me some chillies to take away - which we can hopefully try to grow at our allotment next year. She warned me they are very hot.



It was a great pleasure to spend time in such a lovely place in such good company. We'd be delighted if the group came to visit us one day.