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Allotment advocate Steve Neal visits the village of South Petherton in Somerset and finds a thriving community of allotmenteers and their cottage garden-style plots


The Whitfield Road allotments are on the edge of the village of South Petherton, down a track that’s been muddied by the July rain. Here in South Somerset you’re never that far from a rich seam of gardens. Less than a couple of miles away, the doyenne of cottage gardening Margery Fish planted her garden at East Lambrook Manor, and the National Trust’s Barrington Court and Tintinhull are all within easy reach. These are gardens of some historical significance, and it’s not stretching the point to say that they have an effect on what happens at the Whitfield Road allotments.

The other key influence on the allotments is the character of the village. Situated on the River Parrett, South Petherton has the soft, honey-gold hamstone houses and church, with mullioned windows and ashlar stonework. It looks like a village should look and, as a result, it attracts retirees and others who want to make their home there. But it’s not one of these places that’s picturesque on the outside, yet empty within the walls. The population is around 3500, a village nudging a town really, with its hospital, primary school, carnival, cricket pitch and even its own fishmonger, a lively place in many ways.

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In this month's issue of Kitchen Garden ... - £2814 Worth of garden goodies to be won - Get the buzz for heavier harvests 6 easy ways to bigger pickings - A taste of summer with courgettes, cherries and beetroot - Make crumbly compost in just 4 weeks! - The future of seeds post-prexit - 25 crops that sow themselves - The secret of keeping Bantams - Garden cleaning products on test - Grow a great lawn - Cauliflowers made easy