Stories from the Plots

The story of the lost keys
The story of the lost keys

I’ve been in a bit of a reflective mood recently looking at some of the things we do in PXI and why we do them, but as I’ve done that I’ve also learned a number of lessons from life on the allotments.

1. A few weeks ago our plots at Parson Cross Park and at Norwood looked really overgrown – the weeds had grow tall and parts were like a jungle, all because we’d neglected our work there for a month or so – it amazing how quickly neglect can overwhelm a situation.It the same with other things in life it’s amazing how quickly situations worsen, relationships suffer, and problems mount if we neglect dealing with them. I met someone the other week who got themselves into a load of debt (thousands of pounds) just because they’d tried to ignore the situation and so the interest was added on, the debt grew and a problem that had started smaller had grown and grown until it was almost overwhelming. Thankfully this person had now seen a debt advice worker at an advice centre and bit by bit the debt was being brought under control – it will still be a struggle, there are rarely any easy solutions, but at least the problem is being managed again, much like our overgrown plots.

Our relationships with each other and with God can also be a bit like that, in the Bible, Paul tells members of the early Church “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4.26) – in other words don’t let arguments, disagreements, and fall outs drag on – because the longer they do the more other things grow up around them making it harder to apologise, forgive or rebuild the relationship.

Likewise our relationship with God can also get neglected when we don’t spend time in conversation with “him” – that’s why we pray. Prayer is no more than our ongoing conversation with God, there’s no right way to do it – no special words needed, just an honest recogition of how we feel and where our friendship with God is. Thankfully whatever our relationship with God is like “he” is always ready to listen to us.

2. Story telling is one of the ways we learn truths about life, Jesus used stories a lot when he taught his followers about God.¬† This week we went to Plot 64 to do some more clearance work and to try and start making space for the first beds we hope to prepare. In the end we had to leave in a bit of a rush because of one of those mini family crisis you get when you’ve got kids – so Angela put on the padlock and we were ready to go. It was only then we realised that we’d lost the keys somewhere so now we were locked out of our allotment and inside the allotment compound, and still we needed to rush home. Thankfully a kind allotmenteer opened the site gates so we could leave and deal with our family crisis – but still we had no idea where the keys were. We searched through the bag we’d taken to the plot – we emptied out our pockets, and every compartment in the car – but no keys! Later we went back to the plot with a ladder so we could climb over the hedge and on to the plot to find the lost keys – we looked all over the site and then we found them – what joy, what relief¬† the keys were lying there, and all our worries about buying replacements, the cost of a new gate and so on were gone. That same sense of joy that we had in finding those keys, is how Jesus says God feels when someone he hasn’t heard from in ages gets in touch as wants to become friends (You can read the bible story in Luke 15.8-10) ….

Enjoy the sunshine – and may God bless you.

Prayers and Potatoes

Well it’s not been the best start to spring as far as the garden is concerned, its been very wet, cold and with more late snow than I can remember – though I recall my Dad, now 92 years old, telling me he remembered snow as late as May!

All that said, I’m late putting in the potatoes this year – traditionally they’d be in around Easter but this year I’ve not even thought about it properly yet. On Plot 64 there’s still a whole load of clearing to do before we can realistically start to plant and plan, on Plot 107 in Parson Cross park the heavy clay soil makes drainage issues the highest priority, whilst at Cross at Yew Lane we’ve now got a “Gardening day” planned for 27th April when we’re planning to re-lay the hedge with some additional whips with hazel, blackberry and the like as well as plant a couple of new fruit trees at the back, if you want to join us you can come anytime from 10am (we’re doing soup about 12.30pm) and stay for as long as you choose.

LEAF of course has its own long standing cycle of work and a ready and committed band of volunteers to carry it out and it has seen lots of work done even in the past few months. New beds have been built, structures renewed, and the banking has had new paths made and planting completed with bulbs and other plants. On May 8th, I’m looking forward to holding a special “Prayer Trail” on the LEAF site as part of Sheffield Methodists Prayer 8 series – the trail will use the site to provide opportunities to sit, think, reflect and pray about issues such as; food and fairness, our environment, and our place and role in our communities, the event is an open one and anyone is welcome to join us between 2-3pm at LEAF on Herries Road.

Clearing out the rubbish

Rubbish to be cleared from Plot 64
Rubbish to be cleared from Plot 64

Well although it’s all gone a bit foggy again over the last couple of days, this weekend felt like Spring really was on its way and it gave us a good opportunity to get stuck into the new plot (Plot64) at Norwood. The new plot has been out of use for sometime and is quite neglected and overgrown, but the major task before we can start growing anything is to clear out all the rubbish – piles of it (as you can see from the picture!)

At the moment we’re in the period we Christians call Lent – the time that we prepare and look ahead to Easter. Traditionally it’s a timing for giving things up (chocolate always seems to be a favourite – maybe in anticipation of the over indulging of Easter eggs in a few weeks time!) and for reflection and prayer. Well all things rubbish got me reflecting on the rubbish we pile up in our lives that maybe we need to get rid of. Some of it, like some of the stuff on the allotment might have been useful once, like the hurt we carry from past and broken relationships or let downs, some of it might never had any use in the first place – but however it got there, and whatever our reason for holding on to it sometimes there comes a moment when we have to make the decision and just get rid.

We’ve still got more clearing to do on the plot but until we do there’s not much point in starting to plant anything new – but in time, clearing a particular spot each time we go, it will be ready and we can start to look ahead to a new season of growth.

“Cake & Carols” and a whole new plot

Space to Grow has taken on a new plot at Norwood Allotments, Herries Road. We hope that the new plot will also help us to work more in partnership with our friends at LEAF. There’s a lot of clearing work to be done on the plot before we start to invite visitors, but once we’ve got the keys we can start work so that hopefully by early in the new year we’ll be ready for further announcements.

Meanwhile, with December just a few days away we’ve now arranged a date for what is rapidly becoming an annual event the PXI “Cake & Carols” at LEAF – this year it will take place on 23rd December from 6pm. As well as the usual seasonal carolling, they’ll once again be a roaring open fire, mince pies and hot mulled fruit drinks. You’d me most welcome to join us.

Just to get you in the mood, here’s some pictures from previous years:

PXI “Cake & Carols” at LEAF 2010 & 2011