Allotments in Caithness

(Crossposted at my other truly awful blog.)


Although I had potatoes and onions growing this summer, it has just occured to me that I had not prepared seedlings for a winter crop (unlike the owner of these magnificent specimens I visited yesterday);  so I am now getting in some quick growing seeds.

Thank goodness for Tesco in the winter.

There are very few allotment facilities in Caithness, and I am grateful for corners of gardens which I have cultivated.  Pennyland Farm at the base of Castlegreen Road in Thurso was formerly host to a handful of privately owned plots; and the main field at High Ormlie in Thurso was taken over by Thor Housing.  All I can think of is a handful owned by the Council by the graveyard in Thurso.

That said, plans do appear to be afoot to implement a new allotment policy across the Highland Council area.  My immediate suspicion, though, is that, as with so many decisions here, this would geared for the heaving metropolis of Inverness and surrounding areas, which have several active allotment associations; and not peripheries such as Caithness.

urban allotments

Although produce from allotments cannot be sold as part of commercial projects, plot-owners are free to sell surplus.  Plus, there is the inestimatable benefit of growing one’s own food.  Even if suitable land could not be found in or around Thurso and Wick (not plausible, in my view), dumpy bags of about one metre square could be planxed on disused land and used for mini-allotments; such as these displayed at the London Festival of Agriculture.

Allotmenteering in Thurso recently received a write-up in The Times, with John Thurso, the local MP who tends a vegetable plot behind the walls his family pile, Thurso Castle as it slips into genteel decay.  To conjure up an image of buccolic bliss, the article was entitled “Far from the Maddening (sic.) Crowd”.  Quite why anyone would relish in the image of their entire sheep-flock being driven over a cliff is beyond me.

Still, it could not be as bad as Thomas Hardy’s next book: The Man Who Died At the End.


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