15 June 2012
Down at Abbey Gardens they have been celebrating their progress in creating the most wonderful community gardening space, building on the history of the surrounding Abbey ruins. The lovely Lydia invited us to contribute to the quilted picnic rug, each square a plate of food with a story attached. My contribution was a plate of toms, cut from some screen printed fabric* I made last year and embroidered (ha!) on to the plate. The fact that I dearly love a tom is a joke in this house and used as an excuse for my frequent theft of sweet little tomatoes, or larger helpings of summer salads. When I was a child, tomatoes were one of the few vegetables I would eat when nothing green other than the occasional cos lettuce leaf ever passed my lips. There is a certain irony that now the best tomatoes I grow are made of fabric as I am totally hopeless at keeping control of tomato plants. While my allotment neighbours have regiments of upstanding tomato plants, mine run out of control, rampant, inadequately supported, shockingly neglected. No little red hen me; my love of the tom clearly only extends to eating them.
The patchwork picnic rug is growing into a lovely piece. Lydia was sewing it together last weekend and telling me her stories. The rock buns she must produce at each committee are there, padded with glittering currants; the blackbird with an immense mouthful of sequinned worms that was seen one day, a peculiar benefit of this rainy summer. There are chilies, artichokes, runner beans, squash, apples, strawberries, chutney, sunflowers and sandwiches - all with their own stories behind them. It is a lovely celebration of growth and sharing and optimism. I shall be finding at least one more food story to share, maybe more. What would yours be?
* I saw a frock somewhere this year with a similar print, though cannot remember where. Now I wish I had made more.