Hardy diggers turned out on Saturday 16 March for the Big Dig national volunteering event at the People’s Community Garden, on Maidenhall Allotments in Ipswich.

Despite grey skies, we kept cheerful with cups of tea and delicious homemade cakes. While those of us up for building our biceps dug in green manure (Phacelia tanacetifolia) on the veg plots, Pat led the seed-sowing team in the polytunnel, sowing beetroot in half drainpipes for easy transfer when the seedlings come through. Susannah weeded the native English hedging, while Terry barrowed loads of chippings to mulch around the roots, assisted by Trevor on the rake.

A few new volunteers helped with the work, including Tim – a dad from Tree House Children’s Centre on Clapgate Lane. He was looking for tips for the garden they hope to create in the grounds, and was able to leave with a “starter pack” of seed potatoes, that is, several sackfulls donated by Ipswich Organic Gardeners! Arthur, a Maidenhall plotholder, also put in a solid two hours digging, while Ali’s son Mohammed came along to help with seed-sowing. It was great to see a keen younger gardener among us. Ali was able to show us a film of his family digging up seed potatoes in Abu Dhabi, on his mobile phone, as we gave him a bag of seed potatoes to plant in his own garden. Bryony Rudkin, our local borough councillor, turned out to give us moral support, and left with a fennel root for her own garden.

Over at the Transition Community Orchard, Rona welcomed Linda, a new volunteer who had found the space on ‘Landshare’. She wants to learn about gardening and may join our team over at Chantry Walled Garden, on Tuesdays.

Over at this site, Bob and volunteers Adrian and Elizabeth cracked on with the work. Unfortunately, Big Dig volunteer numbers were not what we’d hoped, as we were not able to publicise the event in advance owing to site logistics. However, a few people popped their heads round the gate, and local councillors Jeannette Macartney and Roger Fern turned up to see the good work done so far. So thanks to Bob and the rest of the team at Chantry Walled Garden.

Tea break at the Big Dig

Tea Break at The Big Dig