Page 54 - ALG Issue 1 2022
P. 54

Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Isle of Wight
Mike Cantillon
07742 391364
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My involvement in the Royal Jersey A & HS
Paul Neary
0845 313 8422
    At 16 years of age, I started my horticultural apprenticeship at the
local parks department here in Jersey. That same year I became a member
of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society, and I entered my first show with a regal pelargonium and standard fuchsia, for which I won a first and second prize certificate. In those days the Society horticultural shows were held in a marquee in Howard Davis Park in the centre of St Helier. Having had an interest in horticulture and growing my own vegetables from
a young age, working alongside my grandfather (who worked in the island’s commercial tomato industry) and spending many happy hours helping on a school friend’s family farm, I decided to follow a career in horticulture.
In 2009, in a response to the growing interest in allotment growing on the island, the RJA&HS created their
first allotments and were named the FH Ahier Country Gardens after a former member of the Society who had gifted the site to the Society in 1955. I was one of the first to sign up for one of these new allotments as I had just moved house and did not have my vegetable garden anymore. Shortly after taking
on my plot, I was approached by the Horticultural Department Committee (with my knowledge experience of amenity horticulture at the St Helier Parks & Gardens Department) and was asked if I would like to maintain the boundary hedges as I had helped plant them when the site was established
in 2008/9. A couple of years later the groundsman at the site retired and I was asked if I would be interested in doing all the maintenance work at the site. This included cutting the grass, strimming along the fences, and generally keeping the site in good order and maintaining all the equipment. I am also qualified to carry out pest control of rats /mice and moles.
I sat for two terms of three years
on the Horticultural Department Committee and was involved in setting up the Management Committee for the Country Gardens. Earlier this year
I was elected to the Council for the Society. Being part of the Management Committee for the Society allotments has its rewards, from not only looking after the site and carrying out the monthly inspections but also helping plotholders and offering advice. This was particularly important in 2020 during the Coronavirus lockdown when inspections were relaxed, and help was offered to anyone who was shielding.
I have also enjoyed helping with and participating in allotments events, including the annual plot competition, produce show, and social events. I was especially pleased when we won the best allotment site three years out of four in the Natural Jersey Competition, judged by judges from the regional heats for Britain in Bloom.
Since taking on my allotment I have become increasingly interested in showing produce grown in my garden and on my allotment, winning a number of prizes and awards at the four shows staged by the RJA&HS. For me the most important show is the August Summer Show, which takes place on the third weekend of August. At this show there is a class open to all the allotment holders from the FJ Ahier Country Gardens to display a selection of what they have grown on their plot
on a card table. The display can include vegetables, fruit, flowers, herbs and preserves. A trophy is awarded to the grower with the best display and is presented by the de Gruchy family in memory of Mr Winter de Gruchy, who, with his brother Graham, laid out the FH Ahier Country Gardens in 2009. Mr de Gruchy very much encouraged new members, helping them show their produce and offering advice on tending their allotment.
Since taking on my allotment I have become increasingly interested in showing produce grown in my garden and on my allotment
       54 Allotment and Leisure Gardener
Welcome to our new members...
Ash Allotment Association
Houghton Allotment Holders Association Longlevens Allotment Association
7 individuals
Chiseldon Parish Council
Haydon Wick Parish Council

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