So, after all the planning processes and architect's meetings, it looks like the creation of the Otter Farm Kitchen Garden School will begin this summer. It's hard to imagine diggers, cranes, be-hatted builders and daily deliveries will soon be busying over this space, but hopefully they will.
A mobile home, much noise and considerable dust beckons. I'm almost forgetting that what follows will be the creation of a kitchen garden to go with the orchards, vineyard forest gardens and perennial garden. It's been almost a pleasure to allow the builders to have the current space where we grow annual veg for their site office - it grew from a small allotment patch into a larger space rather like a small house is incrementally extended: it works in terms of providing more space, but there remains a sense that you'd like to redesign the footprint. Luckily, we have the chance.
Quite what form that'll take is anyone's guess - my head is too full of buildings and construction decisions to get on to that yet - but this summer, I'll be taking my chance to visit some of the gardens I love best to get a little inspiration. West Dean is one of those rare places that will give you ideas and inspiration whether you have an acre or a porch, so a visit to run a course in June couldn't be better timed. Wandering around somewhere special like West Dean gets you out of your own head, and thinking differently. Ours won't be a huge kitchen garden as at West Dean, but it will have perennial veg, edible perennial borders, the familiar annual veg and much more besides, and I'm very much thinking about how that comes together. If nothing else, wandering around somewhere special like West Dean gets you out of your own head, and thinking differently, and if you're coming to the course (I'm running it jointly with Lia Leendertz) do take the time to look around at the gardens as I'm sure it'll add to your own plans for your garden or allotment.
Mark Diacono is a food writer, grower and photographer, who has published seven books. He runs a smallholding, Otter Farm in Devon, England.
[Images by kind permission of Mark Diacono]