The Potager Plot
A potager is a French term for an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden. The historical design precedent is from the Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque Garden à la française eras. Often flowers (edible and non-edible) and herbs are planted with the vegetables to enhance the garden's beauty. The goal is to make the function of providing food aesthetically joyful.
In November 2015, Christina Fox (Chair of Ealing Dean Allotments) upgraded her half plot into a full plot. Christina came up with the idea to use half of her new plot as a feature area for the 2016 Open Day and create a community site for volunteers who didn’t have a plot of their own.
Five people from the allotment waiting list volunteered to work on the Potager plot to gain vital experience and understand the basics of managing an allotment.
Planning sessions helped formulate the layout of the Potager and decisions on where the beds were to be placed. The volunteers also listed the types of flowers and vegetables they intended to grow.
With just seven months before the open day, work started on clearing the site of potatoes, chickweed, grass and thistles. And then layout out the design of the plot with various beds and borders between:
An old shed was moved from elsewhere on the allotment and over the course of six months the shed had a new base, roof, window and a summer house makeover inside and out to transform it into a relaxing oasis. It now faces into the potager to ensure people can enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Following several months of seedlings growing on shelves at home and poly-tunnels at the allotment, April marked the start of planting in the beds. Early planting in the beds included rhubarb, sweet peas, runner beans, cosmos, strawberries, artichokes, courgettes and leeks.
As the weeks quickly followed, more and more plants migrated from the poly-tunnel to the ground along with seed sowing directly into the beds. These included peas, beetroot, night stocks, kale and Nigella's.
The potager is now home to over 35 different types of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
The Open Day: On 25 June, the Potager was one of the highlights of the open day. Visitors and fellow allotment holders flocked to see what had been achieved in just a few short months. Some of the first visitors to the site included the local MP, Rupa Huq along with local councillors, teachers from local schools/nursery and visitors from as far afield as Ascot, Windsor & Maidenhead who had made the special trip for the Open Day.
By the end of the day, over 150 people had visited the potager with Nolan O'Connor, Suzannah Nichols and Christina Fox giving guided tours and history behind the potager.