Also known as the Street Allotment Guy, Casper Macindoe used the time given to him through furlough to make a difference in his Shrewsbury community.
From a simple idea and a conversation with an acquaintance, to now helping grow produce in over 200 square meters of ground throughout the town. Casper tells us a bit more about this exciting community project…
How did the idea start?
“The Street Allotment Project started as almost by accident. Whilst on furlough from The Crown in Coleham, and suffering a little from cabin fever (having already decorated the entirety of my flat), I began tidying and weeding around the outside. I spied an overgrown plot of land and thought that maybe I could tidy that up as well. After asking the landlord of The Old Bell he informed me it belonged to the Hi-Q garage next door.
Rather than immediately speaking to the manager Rob Mazan – as even to me it seemed peculiar that an unknown person would ask to tidy up – I delayed the question with another jaunt to a well known DIY store.
On route I passed some allotments on Roberts Way. Ping!! The idea of growing veg on the plot seemed perfect and I asked Rob if I could cultivate rather than simply tidy up the 3.5m x 4m plot of scrub land. Having no tools, I borrowed a spade and a fork from a friend and got stuck in.”
Where did you get your seeds and tools from?
“At first I thought this patch of land was gargantuan, never having gardened before in my life. Whilst clearing I decided to fill it with vegetables, and any I didn’t use I could give away to the community. Really that is when the idea was truly born.
Foolishly or in hindsight not so much, I asked the internet for help and donations. Seeds, actual tools, loo roll inners for potting, garden fleece, advice, even a greenhouse as well as an enormous amount of support came flooding in. A truly overwhelming experience.”
How did you go from one plot to many?
“It wasn’t until a few days later when Stuart Coates from the Abbey Pub on Monkmoor Road, Shrewsbury messaged and said he’d seen the project and would like to offer a tract of land that I had an inkling that something special was happening.
A friend, David Phillips had casually mentioned he thought the project was a good idea so I asked for help with the new plot. We dug out about 20 square meters of land and began planting seeds in trays on window sills at home, all the while posting up dates on the Facebook page created.”
“Ten days later Anthony Brodie from the Monkmoor Pub in Shrewsbury suggested he had a plot of land ideal for the project. It was a mess, but at about 170 square meters it was an opportunity well worth the effort it would take to create a garden producing vegetables for the community. We now have about 200 square meters of growing space.”
What are you growing?
“In the ground at the moment we have a range of vegetables and fruits like first early new potatoes, dwarf broad beans, garlic, carrots, parsnips, iceberg lettuce, strawberries, raspberries both normal and golden. This weekend we have onions going in, lots of onions! Although the first crop will most likely be the allotment classic; the Radish which should be ready in the next few weeks.”
Have you found the community supportive of your project?
“Yes! Support has come from not only individuals but organisations too and Andrew Howe of Shrewsbury Food Hub who has said they will help with the distribution of surplus produce. That coupled with the peculiar luck of being sited next to pubs we believe we will be able to reach the community and offer free veggies to anyone who’d like to take them home.
The project appears to have really struck a chord within the community and donations keep coming in. Only yesterday we received Redcurrant and Tayberry bushes. With this level of support I believe we will be in sore need of more scrub land to convert! By doing that there will come time in the future where volunteers and groups will be able to plant, grow and harvest produce themselves to distribute in their pocket of community.”
How can people get involved?
“We are always in need of volunteers, as over the summer weeds and watering become critical to the success of the project. If you’d like to offer even half an hour a week there is always going to be room , so do contact @streetallotmentguy on Facebook and become one yourself! If you think you may be able to help in other ways, there is always a wish list at the top of the Facebook page. It includes things like chicken wire for our palette composter, and guttering for rainwater collection.
Currently we aren’t accepting monetary donations, as so far we have had every need fulfilled by the extraordinary generosity of Salopians, although in the future we do hope to access grants to really engage the community and feed the need for gardening.
Personally I’d simply like to thank each and every person who has taken the time to donate. Although there are a few of us ‘Street Allotment Guys’ out there digging and planting the project has been, and continues to be sustained by your support. Thank you!”
Casper Macindoe – Street Allotment Guy
Find out more and get involved via Facebook.