More than 200 people celebrate 100th anniversary of Kenilworth's Odibourne Allotments
It’s a peaceful green haven with a river running through it – it’s seven acres that sit at the end of School Lane in north-east Kenilworth.
That seven acres of land - the Odibourne Allotments - plays a special part in the lives of many Kenilworth residents.
More than 200 people came together last weekend to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Odibourne Allotments.
Lily Brownjohn, who has had a plot on the allotments for over 25 years, said: “It’s just a wonderfully peaceful place to be. I think it’s one of the best kept secrets of Kenilworth.”
Lily grows just about everything from grape vines, to tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, sweet peppers, potatoes and soft fruits like melon, plums and peaches. Her plot also has a 16-foot greenhouse.
Lily, who serves as the secretary of the Kenilworth Allotments Tenants Association, said while the allotments do have a 12-month waiting list anyone interested in taking on a plot can call her at 01926 855291.
Lily said: “It’s a way of life. You do need time to do it. It takes dedication and time to make it fruitful and productive.
“I think gardening is in your blood some how and in your genes. My father was a wonderfully gentle man and he was amazing in the garden. I think I inherited my love of gardening from him.”
The allotments represent growth in more ways than one. Over the years they have been a gathering place for friends and family.
Mike Hitchens remembers taking his children to the allotments when they were just four days old wrapped up inside his coat.
Mike, who has had a plot for over 20 years, said: “I have hundreds of hundreds of happy hours down there playing with my kids. One of the nicest things to see is when you get the kids down there because at the end of the day they’re the future gardeners.”
There are a couple of second generation plot holders on the allotments like Mary Jones, who has shared a plot with her husband, Brian, for 47 years.
Her father, Len Hayden, took on a plot at aged 21 in 1933.
Mary said: “He’d actually had it over 70 years. I don’t think anybody in the country will ever break my dad’s record.”
Over the years the allotments have been a place of building friendships and a place of refuge for Mary and Brian.
Mary added: “When you’re down there it’s so nice and peaceful. It’s a like a little wildlife haven. When my husband was working in a factory it was somewhere good for him to go relax and get some fresh air and probably likewise for my father.”