Months of soggy mornings are about to pay off for the allotment holders of Chesswood Farm as they prepare for a bumper harvest.
It takes a special kind of soul to brave the elements on the south coast, delicately nurturing their seedlings into heaving vines and bursting pods.
Now, with grey skies having given way to glorious sunshine, Chesswood Farm, on the border of the railway line near Pages Lane, East Worthing, welcomes a colourful patchwork of 356 plots crammed with tasty earthen treats and the odd clump of flowers.
In 2015, Chesswood Farm was one of seven allotments handed over by the council to Worthing Allotment Management (WAM), a group of allotment holders run by an elected committee. Worthing Borough Council has welcomed the transition of ownership, saying it fits in with their policy of ‘allowing residents to take control of the things that matter in their lives’ in line with their Platforms for Our Places initiative. The council still owns the land, but WAM manages the sites.
Platforms for Our Places is a plan that ‘sets out Adur and Worthing Councils’ ambition for our places’ and our communities’ prosperity and wellbeing over three years’.
A council spokesman said: “Over the past two years or so we have started to create the platform to unlock the energy and unleash the power of people in the community to run and improve their own lives and the places in which they live.”
For many, cultivating veg has been a lifelong passion and Chesswood Farm brings people together through their shared passion.
Ken Wilson, 58, from Worthing, was five years old when he first joined his parents on their allotment. He now operates an ‘old English garden’, filled with natural flowers and apple, plum and pear trees.
Paul Eustice, 77, the secretary of WAM, from Worthing, has held an allotment since the late 1970s.
“We have a great community here,” he said. “Everyone feels they belong and we all contribute different skills to making everyone’s allotments better.”
When Cheryl Stoodley, 57, of East Worthing, was unable to tend to her allotment following a stroke three years ago, the Chesswood Farm community came to her aid.
Site manager Rik Pease, 50, gave Cheryl a raised bed which would make looking after her produce more manageable.
Cheryl said: “Coming to my allotment allows me to escape from everyday life.
“It’s so peaceful down here that I come down even if I have nothing to work on.”
With 1,000 allotment plots in Worthing alone, and 13 full allotment sites still run by Adur District Council, allotments are important elements of the community.
Seventy-year-old Richard Wheeler, from Lancing, summed it up: “Owning an allotment – it’s hard but rewarding work!”