Torkington Road Allotment site is a medium sized site adjacent to Torkington Park, Hazel Grove. Contact Geoff Bohan on 0161 483 9555 to put your name on our waiting list
Torkington Road allotment site has about 45 plots of varying sizes, from quarter plots to full size plots, to suit people with a range of abilities, ages and lifestyles. The site is managed by a committee made up of ten volunteers who also organise task days to tidy and maintain the site and to co-ordinate our annual Open Day, which deliberately coincides with Hazel Grove carnival. The carnival terminates in Torkington Park and is held on the second Saturday in July. This is an historic and very popular event and the allotments are an interesting attraction for the large numbers of people enjoying the carnival.
In previous years, Torkington Allotment Association has also taken part in Heritage Open Days, as some of the produce grown on the site is from heritage seed, with the premise that such varieties should not disappear from our tables. Last year, we participated in the Health and Wellbeing Week and hosted a joint Open Day with Stockport Homes, which manages the adjoining sheltered housing.
Our Association considers that it has a wider role to play in the community, over and above maintaining our own site. We cut their hedges which border the allotments and provide fresh produce for the elderly residents of the sheltered housing complex. We also work closely with the Friends of Torkington Park group, loaning tools, mowers and other equipment and helping out at the regular task days when maintenance jobs are carried out in the park. We also provide training and supervision in the use of these tools, to enable the Friends Group to meet their Health and Safety risk assessment needs. These regular task days supplement the work of the Local Authority, ensuring the park is an attractive and safe place for groups to hold a wide range of events for the local community to participate in and enjoy.
Some Association members also help at annual park events such as the Easter Trail, the Halloween Trail, carol singing in the park in early December, a Duck Race in late June and the recently introduced Summer concerts in the Secret Garden.
Most recently, we have been investigating ways we can provide fresh produce for local charities, such as the Wellspring, which provides good food for vulnerable people in Stockport town centre. One of our committee members works near the Wellspring and is hoping to deliver produce on a day to day basis.
How to enter a competition for allotment produce
Torkington Allotment Association entered the Allotment Challenge at last week’s Disley Show 2014, and as Paul Green said “it’s a bit of fun”. So how did we do it?
First look at the Rules – How many of which sorts of things (you need 10 out of 12 of a list of vegetables, fruits, and herbs). Some categories need matched sets of 3, 6 or whatever. Decide whether you might have enough on the site to fulfil the list and if so pay the entry fee. Then go round the plot holders to beg for donations.
For a Saturday Show, meet up on Thursday to dig and pick the selected types.
Meet again on Friday to see if you have enough of each type and then dig/pick more. Try to find five potatoes of the same, size, shape, and markings, and do that for two named varieties. All carefully washed and polished of course.
Then pick Runner Beans to find 6 the same size, length, and shape (ideally all dead straight, but if they are ‘bent’ then all bent the same way). Do the same for dwarf beans and courgettes (which must be between 4 and 6 inches long). Oh dash! They have grown huge with all this rain!
Find 3 onions, complete with root and tops, all exactly the same and as large as possible. Realise that after two weeks ‘drying in the sun’ their tops have become shrivelled and no two are the same, let alone three, so carefully cut the worst affected bits off to achieve the three. Take off the dried husks as they look really messy, and then reread the rules that say “as grown” and pray.
Fail to find 3 identical carrots and panic – you still need 5 more varieties.
Check the purple gooseberries that were so good this time last year. Only they are well over now. Plan B – pick lots of blueberries and agonise as to whether you should present them ‘as picked’ or polish each one with a fine cloth. Remember to take a white plate to show them off.
Dig out lots and lots of beetroot to get 3 lovely ones – large, same shape and size, and free from damage. The bigger they are the more likely they have been attacked by slugs, so settle for medium/small ones. See a great big cabbage – but full of wild-life, so useless. Find a nice little pointed one with minimal damage from pests, and dig it up to find lots of ‘well knitted club root’. Well it did say ‘as grown’!
Collect 3 herbs: but is fennel a herb? Decide yes as it is used for flavouring as well as in chopped salads.
Just one to go! Ah, hiding under a huge leaf is a huge squash. All that rain did some good after all. Get scratched arms trying to extricate it without damage (those leaves are very prickly!).
That evening, repair to the show ground to set up and find that last year’s run-away winners (a well-known Church site) were not entered. Then see a newcomer – from Buxton, with quite a nice display, including carrots and having green tops on their onions! They explain that their growing season is nearly a month behind Stockport’s because they are higher up in the hills.
Spend ages agonising over the layout – should the bent onion tops point inwards or outwards, and how can we get symmetry when every different type is a different size and shape? Decide it’s the best we can do and retire.
Go to the show the next day and find that High Lane had most things just a bit better than we did – including nice large clean carrots. They won First Prize. Ah hah, we just pipped Buxton to get Second Prize. We congratulate ourselves and collect our winnings (two thirds of the entry money back).
Thank the organiser of the Allotment Challenge, Paul Green of High Lane, and say “now next year “…
Yes – it was a ‘bit of fun’ and we did enjoy it.
Richard King, Torkington Road Allotments