Growing Culture History Project

In 2020 Whetstone Stray Allotments was described as a site with a fascinating history:

Past and present Plot holders were interviewed for the Growing Culture Oral History project in 2019, with funding from the Heritage Lottery.  The recordings will be of great interest to historians of community gardening in the UK.
One of the interviewees, Judy Twilley, first came to Whetstone Stray allotments as a young girl, at that time there was no running water on site, and she recalls fetching water from the brook for her grandfather on his plot. She remembers the move from traditional British growing, a time when the allotments were all-male, and while she no longer has a plot on the site herself, she is still fondly remembered by many plot holders, and has kindly returned to judge the cakes in tour recent Annual Shows.
Maria Gambarini, one of the plot holders who has been on site for the longest time, also took part and recorded how she brought vegetable varieties from Italy.

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Events 2017-2019

Capital Growth Training with Environmental Art Therapist Gary Nash:

Gary introduced the concept of the Celtic Calendar as developed by Ian Siddons-Heginworth as a means into attuning with the seasons and cycles of the year.

The tree the Celts often identified with this time is Hazel. Known as the Celtic tree of knowledge, the Hazel was associated with wisdom, intuition and creativity. Hazel rods were used for divining water and mineral and so it helps attune us to the deep undercurrents within the earth and within ourselves.

‘Behold yourself’ – Nature is a mirror in which we see ourselves reflected. Nature has many ways of refilling us. When we awake to the glory of a beautiful sunrise she fills us with hope…. Nature refills us with herself because Nature is the outward manifestation of our own feminine. Anywhere we go, anything we meet, it is ourselves that we encounter…

Hazel rep-resents the gift of intuition and insight which can make us great mediators in times of struggle. As a source of creativity it can inspire both ourselves and those around us. Hazel can help us to become a catalyst, inspiring change in our own lives and in the world in general…..

Environmental arts therapy seeks to develop a stronger attunement to the feeling self, the feeling body, and supports the movement from the rational thinking self to the feeling self. The masculine and feminine energies are considered in relation to the natural world – through the cycles of the turning year and within our own personal/internal movement and cycle of energy – as we move through the annual cycle of change.

Capital Growth Training with Hedge Herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmed : Herbs as Healing Allies

We welcomed back Rasheeqa, who focussed on the healing plants growing on the Community Plot, mainly in the wildlife and wildflower areas.  We made a healing oil for cuts and grazes with comfrey – which we also use on the Community Plot to make a plant feed.  We also made teas.

Big Dig 2019

A wet and windy day, so we had our Big Dig in doors.  We made paper pots, sowed seeds, potted on hundreds of tomatoes, made a scare-crow and enjoyed a pizza lunch.

Capital Growth Training with the Women’s Environmental Network : “Make Your Own Skin Care’ 2018

oils suffused with herbs from the Community Plot

Thank you to Nighat for the beautiful beeswax

23 participants made : deodorant ; hand cream and a body scrub

Capital Growth Urban Harvest 2018

Although it was a wet and windy day, we still found plenty to do: picking ingredients for our celebration meal; weighing our big pumpkin – 21.3 kilos (which won the Capital Growth prize for heaviest pumpkin); and making apple juice.

73rd Annual Show 2018

The independent Judges with Annual Show Sub-Committee Member Gnia

Marion with her amazing 1st prize winning pumpkin

Top prize winners Siobhan and Rik

Rita and Weldon did well too, including Best New Plot

The Community Plot got two trophies and more than £13.00 in prize money!  *Seeds for next year*

While Siobhan & Rik, Paul & Ann, Maria and Joanna all shared the Sunflower Trophy!

and Sabina was awarded Best Plot:

Capital Growth Training on Whetstone Stray Allotments, August 2018

Plants as Healing Allies with Rasheeqa Ahmed

Big Dig

April 2018

Big Dig is the annual day for Community Gardens, and is an initiative of to encourage awareness of local community gardens and volunteering oppportunities.  The Community Plot is a member of Capital Growth, and is a training partner this year – look out for information about training on site later in the year.

This was our third Big Dig, it was a lovely sunny day, we had a good turn out, and got a lot done in a fun, action packed morning : planting 100 seed potatatoes, making more than 100 paper pots, mixing seed compost (our recipe uses top soil; leaf mould and sand) sowing vegetable seeds and Growwild wild flower seeds – Growwild is a national charity which supplies wildflower seeds, advice and guidance, to community groups.

At the end of a great morning of gardening, we enjoyed a wonderful vegetarian lunch prepared by volunteers, including delicious Turkish food, pickled sloes and wild garlic and nettle pesto.

Seedy Sunday

February 2018

Apple Day, October 2017

Many thanks to Les Coupland and Sean for a great day.  It’s a good thing we now have two apple presses, as there was a good turn out, a variety of apples were pressed and at least 30 litres of apple juice produced.

Community Plot Open Day, October 2017

72nd Annual Show, September 2017

Many thanks to the Annual Show Sub-committee: Angela, Afsaneh, Dianne and Dorothy, for a wonderful day.

There was a really good turn out, and lots of lovely fruit, veg, flowers, jams, chutneys, cakes, photos & pictures … to name just some of the good things on Show …

 At the end of the day there was an auction of produce (proceeds to the Community Plot for next year’s seeds)

Thank you to Alice for the Children’s Activities

The Community Plot won Best New Plot and Novice Cup:

Maggie won Best Kept Plot

Please send in your photos of the day so we can upload them!  There are more photos in our photo gallery.

Plant Sale 2017

Our Annual Plant Sale was a great success.  Most of the plants were provided by the Community Plot Group, who have sowed, pricked out and potted on hundreds of plants this year.  We also had donations from Plot Holders, including unusual plants such as medicinal herbs and orchids!

We also enjoyed wonderful cakes, baked and donated by Plot Holders:

Big Dig 2017

This was our second Big Dig event on the Community Plot.  So much has changed since last year!  This year 21 people took part, bringing together people with learning disabilities, plot holders and children.  There were loads of different things to do, learning how to prick out seedlings in the poly tunnel; planting potatoes; planting the pond and pollinator area; sowing Grow Wild flower seeds … all this and more got done …

Dominik’s fantastic potato drills – the first ones he has ever made

Dorothy and the Group potting on loads of plants; 

sowing Grow Wild seeds: supports community projects with seed kits and also provides mentoring support to our Community Plot.

And we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ cooked by Neil and Angela.

Putting up the Poly tunnel on the Community Plot

Our biggest ever voluntary challenge, finally achieved in time for the Big Dig, with thanks to all those who took part over several weeks!.  

Winter Tree Pruning Workshop March 2017

Les is a Master Pruner, with decades of experience.  He shares his skills in Pruning Workshops for Plot Holders.  This time he demonstrated on an old, overgrown apple tree on Sean, Allison and Ann’s Plot.  Les will hold another Workshop for stone fruits later this year.

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Community Plot News

2023 – Mayor of London Event

2023 – London Festival of Architecture – Artist Becky Lyon work shop and sculpture on the Community Plot

2023 – Garden Organic Amaranth trial

2023 – Restored raised beds – thanks to Magic Little Grants and Volunteers including Barnet young asylum seekers group

2022 – New Shed thanks to Magic Little Grants and Volunteers

2022 – Herb ‘Tea Bed’ with thanks to Food for Life and Volunteers

The Community Plot goes into the community

July 2020 – Community Plot at the Barnet African-Carribean Association

Growing Connections 2020

Community Plot facilitators consulted on the Guide with funding from the Centre for Ageing Better. Our Buddy Garden for this project was the Older Women’s CoHousing in Barnet, where our facilitator Les advised on making their garden more accessible using his specifications for raised beds like those on the Community Plot, where people can stand up to garden. The full version of the guide is available from Capital Growth

Photos of the Community Plot in CommUnity Barnet’s 2020 Calendar

Congratulations to Desy for winning second prize for this photo which is the image for April 2020

Barnet Mencap Community Plot Group Volunteering Opportunity in Barnet First (Barnet Council magazine) :

Community Plot in Barnet First Volunteering Ops


Community growers gather to share ideas on engaging volunteers

“Build it and they will come” expressed Les Moore (Facilitator of the Community Plot at Whetstone Stray Allotments), who spoke passionately at Capital Growth’s Grow Well Feel Well event about the conception of their growing project as well as an age-friendly approach to volunteering.

Grow Well, Feel Well 2019 - Spitalfields City Farm

Grow Well, Feel Well 2019 – Spitalfields City Farm

Over 45 people joined the packed event for an energising summers evening in the beautiful surrounds of Spitalfields City Farm.

The event was part of the new Growing Connections project, which is capturing and sharing good practice in the Capital Growth network on age-friendly and inclusive volunteering.  This includes working with flagship and buddy gardens, and creating a small community of practice where people can share experiences. The project is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports as part of a project run by the Centre for Ageing Better. Read more here. 

A huge thanks to all our participants and contributors.11/07/2019
Capital Growth

New Ageing Better funding announced by Minister at Capital Growth garden

A new Capital Growth project has been announced as one of five funded by Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Centre for Ageing Better. The project will find and share better ways of supporting and recruiting older volunteers at community gardens (including the Community Plot at Whetstone Stray Allotments)…

… The fund was launched following a review of community contributions in later life, conducted by the Centre for Ageing Better in partnership with the Office for Civil Society in DCMS. It found many older people face barriers to taking part or staying involved, which can get worse if their circumstances change, particularly for those who are less financially secure, have poorer health or come from certain BAME backgrounds.

In its review, the Centre for Ageing Better called on charities, voluntary organisations and the public sector to do more to support volunteering in later life, especially in groups less likely to volunteer. Stronger action is needed to enable people to take part in activities that matter to them and stay involved as they get older or undergo major events like ill health, bereavement or caring for loved ones.

The review identified six principles of age-friendly and inclusive volunteering which the projects will test. Volunteering should be flexible and responsive, enabled and supported, sociable and connected, valued and appreciated, meaningful and purposeful, and make good use of peoples’ strengths.


Capital Growth

Jellied Eel (September 2018) – Community Plot at Whetstone Stray Allotments listed as one of London’s best community gardens

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