Here we SOW!

PUBLISHED: 12:12 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 14:47 12 May 2010

Husband and wife Claire and Paul Estherby with their winning entry in the Dutch tray competition - 1878DW02

Husband and wife Claire and Paul Estherby with their winning entry in the Dutch tray competition - 1878DW02

THERE S a group of people who certainly have not lost the plot. These are the dedicated and enthusiastic members of the Royston Allotments and Gardens Association, who put their efforts on public display on Sunday. The allotments at Coombes Hole were open

Dave Ingle, left, and Ron Harris during the open day at the Coombes Hole allotments - 1878DW07

THERE'S a group of people who certainly have not lost the plot.

These are the dedicated and enthusiastic members of the Royston Allotments and Gardens Association, who put their efforts on public display on Sunday.

The allotments at Coombes Hole were opened to the public to show the joys and rewards of working a plot.

One husband-and-wife team have certainly reaped the rewards.

Claire and Paul Estherby took on a plot three years ago and have grown vegetables ever since.

"It's strange when we are out shopping and we see lines of vegetables on display and we just say to ourselves that we don't need any them," said Paul. "That's one part that has made it worthwhile."

Claire said they applied for a plot after seeing a TV programme about growing on an allotment.

"All we had was a basic book about growing but that, more or less, became our Bible," she said.

Such is their enthusiasm they have taken on a second plot which still needs a lot of work.

There are 130 plots at Coombes Hole and the association has 68 members.

Neil Guttridge, the association's treasurer, said the idea behind the open day was to allow councillors and the public to see what happens, and it coincided with the start of National Allotment Week.

"After all," he said, "the allotments are the responsibility of the town council and we thought the elected members would like to see for themselves the activities on the site."

Three town councillors - Cllr Robert Smith, Cllr Philip Mayne and Cllr Elizabeth Gaillard - turned up to look around, along with North Herts District Council leader Cllr F John Smith.

Royston's MP Oliver Heald and his wife, Christine, also took a look at the allotments.

Mr Heald admitted that he was in search of the secrets of "men in sheds".

He was impressed with the work being carried out on the plots and the enthusiasm of those involved in the toiling and growing.

Mr Guttridge said: "The intention of the event was to let people know what we have achieved at the allotments. In that way, the open day was a success.

"We have a whole crowd here who are enthusiastic, and running an allotment is no longer seen as the job of the retired person. We have a lot of young people involved."

Many people took on an allotment because their garden was too small, he said.

"But there probably is an element of self-sufficiency and green living coming into it."

Cllr Ian Knighton, North Herts District Council's portfolio holder responsible for allotments, said there had been "an unprecedented demand" for plots.

- For details of Coombes Hole allotments, call Royston Town Council on 01763 245484.

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