The Allotmenteers: Portraits of a Growing Community

By Catherine Mack

An intimate collection of stories and growing tips from members of the allotmenteer community.

Nature | Photography
14% funded
86 supporters
Funding
Support this project
Make The Allotmenteers: Portraits of a Growing Community a reality – choose your reward below.
$15 
1 pledge

Digital

A copy of the ebook.

PLUS:

  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$25  + shipping
31 pledges

Paperback

First edition paperback.

PLUS:

  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$60  + shipping
6 pledges

Read with a Friend

Two signed first edition paperbacks for you and a friend to read together.

PLUS:

  • Two ebooks
  • Both of your names in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$70  + shipping
4 pledges

All Year Round Tea Towel

A month-by-month Allotmenteer-inspired tea towel, to keep you planting throughout the year.

PLUS:

  • Signed first edition paperback
  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$85  + shipping
3 pledges

Enamel Mug

An Allotmenteer-inspired mug for you to take hot drinks out into your garden while planting new seeds.

PLUS:

  • Signed first edition paperback
  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$105  + shipping

Gardening Apron

Garden in style with an Allotmenteer-inspired gardening apron.

PLUS:

  • Signed first edition paperback
  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$120  + shipping
2 pledges

Allotment Hamper

A hamper of goodies from the allotment, including elderflower wine, fruit jams, and pickles. LIMITED TO UK SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.

PLUS:

  • Signed first edition paperback
  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$165  + shipping

Concert ticket

A ticket to The Allotmenteers concert*. The event will include a performance of English classical country songs by a tenor from the Royal College of Music, and poetry and readings about gardens and growing by Catherine and other performers. LIMITED TO 10.

*Venue in London, exact location tbc. Travel expenses not included.

PLUS:

  • Signed first edition paperback
  • Ebook
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$525  + shipping

Sustainability Lecture with Catherine Mack

A lecture* from Catherine about sustainable tourism at your university, company or club. Catherine is a published travel writer and specialist in sustainable tourism. LIMITED TO 5.

*Catherine's travel and accomodation costs to be reimbursed separately. 

PLUS:

  • Ten first edition signed paperbacks
  • Ten ebooks
  • Your name in the back of the book
Choose this reward
$1,500  + shipping
1 pledge

Patron

Our patron level includes a special thank you printed in the FRONT of the book with your name and/or the name of your organisation. LIMITED TO 5.

PLUS:

  • Five signed first edition copies
  • Five ebooks
  • Your name at the back of the book
Choose this reward

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get my book delivered to?

We deliver to most countries worldwide. Enter your delivery address during checkout and we'll display the shipping cost when we know where to send your book.

How do supporter names work?

Every person who pledges to help to make a book gets their name included in a supporter section as a thank you as long as they pledge before the list closing deadline. If you want to add a different name, this can be changed in your account after you have completed your pledge.

Still have a question? Visit our Help Centre to find out more.

Travel journalist and sustainability expert, Catherine Mack has met with allotmenteers across the country to find out how they use their allotments and why this space has changed their lives. The Allotmenteers: Portraits of a Growing Community is her compilaton of their stories.

The term ‘allotment’ can be traced back to Elizabeth I’s reign when green plots were offered as compensation to communities for the removal of common lands. Later, during both the World Wars, allotments became a vital source for fresh produce. The subsequent rise of Industrialisation led to a steady decline in allotments, with just over 300,000 plots available today. Today, 1 in 8 of the UK population has no access to a garden (1 in 5 in London), and allotments provide a unique opportunity for them to acquire a green space of their own, offering fresh food, health, wellbeing and friendship.

As Catherine's book will portray, The Allotmenteers are solo parents and survivors, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, from different ages and backgrounds. In this collection, they have opened the gates to their healing hideaways to share their seeds of knowledge:

  • Johan from Cambridgeshire, originally from South Africa, was part of the Royal Engineers’ search and bomb disposal unit whose allotment offers him essential green therapy following his diagnosis of PTSD.
  • Dorothea from Plymouth has had an allotment for fourteen years. She attributes her love of gardening to her Chinese grandmother who had a regenerative plot. As well as growing, Dorothea has set up a dye garden for her local community.
  • Simon from Bishops Stortford was inspired to get an allotment to protect the planet for the next generation. The produce he grows is inspired by his travelling experiences, such as Russian Black tomatoes from Moscow - influenced by his Trans-Siberan railway adventures.
  • Elaine from Bristol champions the joys of juicing; blending the fresh fruit and vegetables that she grows into juices for her and husband, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his late forties.

Each story is accompanied by individual monochrome photography portraits, and a growing tip or recipe inspired by their favourite thing to grow on their allotment.

Plot holders are often private, enjoying the boundaries that surround them even just for a few precious hours a week. The Allotmenteers: Portraits of a Growing Community is a respectful observation of the allotmenteers in their special spaces, whilst also seeking to share their experiences to inspire a greener way of living.  

Photography credits: Madeleine Waller.

Image credits: Design by Mecob. Images: © Shutterstock.com.

Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

Support this project

Quick select rewards

  • Catherine Mack avatar

    Catherine Mack

    Catherine is an award-winning travel writer specialising in sustainable and ethical tourism. Storytelling and sustainability go hand in hand for Catherine, who engages with people just as much as place on her travels.


    Catherine has always sought to understand why people journey and is keen to capture what people gain from travelling this short distance from urban to rural, from home to allotment, as well as the growing and personal journeys they take while being allotmenteers. Catherine doesn’t have an allotment and, as it is considered such a private world by those who maintain them, she is able to offer an objective eye in her interviews and subsequent essays, helping the reader feel as if they too are privileged to enter this private world.


    http://www.ethicaltraveller.co.uk

  • Johan, Cambridgeshire

    “I don’t know if I can describe it, to be honest. It was a sense of relief to get this allotment, and to know that this little space was all mine.”

    As Johan gently attaches some over-enthusiastic sunflowers to a metal support along one side of his allotment, he points out that these supports are actually old mattress springs. And that the vegetable bed beneath his feet received its winter warmth from the same mattress’ stuffing. The springs also support tomatoes, achoca fruit and some African horned cucumbers which are called kiwano in his home country of South Africa. For a broad-shouldered strong man, who looks more like a Springboks rugby player than a vegetable grower in rural Cambridgeshire, he handles the string and stalks delicately and patiently. You can take a man out of the Royal Engineers’ search and bomb disposal unit but you can’t take this need for precision out of the man. 

    “In 2006 I followed one of my surfing friends from South Africa over here to join the Royal Engineers,'' Johan explains, “where I trained as an engineer, search and bomb disposal expert and served for nine years, my last station being in Wimbech in Essex.” During Johan’s years of service he had always managed to have a small plot to grow on, but not as much as he wanted and also, to his regret, when he was away with the military he didn’t have time to tend to it. 

    “I inherited my love of growing from my grandfather. We didn’t have much money at all growing up but he always taught me that what we did have was a lot more than some people. I could turn the light on and I had light. I could turn the tap on and I had water. And that already put me in the privileged sector. In our garden we had avocados, mangos, lemons, pomegranates, lychees, passion fruits and orange trees.” 

    Adapting to the British climate did curb Johan’s enthusiasm for a while, however, with efforts to produce tomatoes and strawberries not really coming to fruition during his army years. “I didn’t understand how to grow properly, to be honest, not really getting the concept of sun and heat and all that.” However, when he was medically discharged from the army, due to a back injury and hearing loss that occured during his service, he realised that what he needed was some serious space to grow and time to learn more about it. 

    This took time in itself, and finally, four years after leaving the army this allotment, 5m wide by 25m long, came up for grabs, and then, very soon after, a neighbouring one did too. It’s a bit like people who try for years to have a baby and all of a sudden, they are told they are having twins. The plot thickens though, because just as one part of Johan’s world started to open up, another was imploding. He pulls out a few rhubarb stalks, cuts off the large leaves and takes a deep breath: “Last year, just before I got the allotment, I was diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which was a combination of issues from my past but also from my service.” So, even though he had waited several years, the allotment couldn’t have come at a better time for Johan. It turned out that clearing a vast patch of 2m high weeds and starting to dig deep, was just the therapy that he needed. 

    Read more...
  • It looks like Catherine Mack has not made any updates yet. Check back soon!

  • These people are helping to fund The Allotmenteers: Portraits of a Growing Community.

    User avatar

    Clara Molden

    User avatar

    Ber Dowd

    User avatar

    Jackie Sands

    User avatar

    Esther Bell

    User avatar

    Lucy Cleeve

    User avatar

    Cristina Astorri

    User avatar

    Jane Johnson

    User avatar

    Alex Coppock-Bunce

    User avatar

    Nate Moss

    User avatar

    Caroline Bendall

    User avatar

    sarah wilson

    User avatar

    Karen Simmonds

    User avatar

    Carol Ackroyd

    User avatar

    Sara Kestelman

    User avatar

    John New

    User avatar

    John Peter Maughan

    User avatar

    Aidan Kelly

    User avatar

    Lucy Riseborough

    User avatar

    Janet Morson

    User avatar

    Erica Rosen

    User avatar

    Laura Davis

    User avatar

    Penny O'Neill

    View more
  • John Peter Maughan
    John Peter Maughan asked:

    Could I pledge for a digital only copy of this book? I don't buy hard copy books anymore these days and certainly wouldn't pay to have one delivered.

    Catherine Mack
    Catherine Mack replied:

    Hi John - Thanks so much for enquiring about The Allotmenteers. We have now uploaded the digital option for pledges. So do please pledge away! Your interest in my book is much appreciated. Best, Catherine