The latest gardener to join our PlantGrow Champions network is Emma from @Ems_Allotment_Garden. Her dedication to the environment is inspiring and we want to support her as she works to encourage people to use organic products in their gardens.
Growing up, Emma was always fascinated by nature and biology. Her love of plants started when she was small and she was visiting a heritage site. “They had an absolutely gigantic Gunnera manicata. I was in complete awe that a plant with such huge leaves was real!”
Since then, plants became a lifelong love of Emma’s, alongside all things animals and nature. She would grow whatever she could – usually in containers as she moved and rented a lot. She had a small pop-up greenhouse and cut open grow or compost bags on patios until she settled in Hampshire and joined the local allotment waiting list.
“After a long 5 year wait, I had my very first plot. I battled mare’s tail and bindweed, grew and traded veggies with my lovely plot neighbours and did far more digging than I needed to. I wish I had known about no-dig back then for so many reasons!”
Several years later Emma bought a house and gave up her plot for someone else to use so she could create her dream growing space: a no-dig, organic haven for herself and the local wildlife. That’s where Em’s Allotment Garden was born!
Organic gardening is extremely important to Emma. “We’ve never experienced a more troublesome time for the environment. Industrial agriculture, chemical and pesticide use, the huge loss of soil and environmental biodiversity and habitat are all huge problems.
More awareness is being raised that nature is struggling and that we can all make changes and better choices to help. For me, this means gardening and growing in a way that enhances and feeds into my soil, growing spaces and ecosystem.”
Emma practices no-dig and organic gardening in her garden and only uses peat-free organic certified compost. A recent bad experience cemented her belief in gardening this way to protect the environment and her harvests.
“In spring 2020 I had first-hand experience with Aminopyralid contamination in my garden. Compost from a bulk supplier that I ordered from was contaminated with herbicides and trash; it killed everything that was in contact with it and was a write off for the rest of the growing season. Though I did manage to remove it (all 3 tonnes of it!) and build ‘The Tall Planter’ in order to have some late sown veg, it took a lot of putting right.”
Emma is constantly learning and trying to deepen her understanding to help her do better for her growing space and the environment. She’s currently studying for the RHS Level 2 certificate in plant growth, propagation and development and is reading up on permaculture and soil microbes.
“The more I learn, the more I’m amazed at how much truly goes on beneath our feet and right in front of us. This year I stopped buying hybrid seeds and am making the switch over to heirloom varieties from small-scale ethical companies with the goal of starting to save and share my seeds to help promote availability and sustainability of seed access and stock.
I love to experiment with new and different ways of growing. I feel like gardening is such a playful, joyful and freeing thing. You can throw out all the rules, get it wrong, try again and experience the joy and fun throughout the whole process. This year I also expanded into the world of flowers and I’m so excited for all those blooms for myself and the wealth pollinators it should attract to the allotment garden. There are big changes on the way to Em’s Allotment Garden and I’m so excited for what’s to come.”
Why we’re championing Emma
Emma is so passionate about the environment and considering how soils and wildlife work together. We want to work with her as she shows her followers how they can each do their small part to help the planet and reduce the effects of climate change. If we add all our gardens in the UK together, it is bigger than all of our nature reserves. If each of us made a conscious decision to use organically friendly products in our garden, this will have a great impact on our planet.