A mum from Oxfordshire is using her green fingers to create a £25 allotment using toilet roll and coffee sacks to keep her kids occupied whilst their schools are closed in the wake of the coronavirus.
34-year-old Andrea Pugh placed messages on local social media groups in Shellingford, Oxfordshire, calling for wooden pallets and loo roll tubes to help her build the allotment area.
A local coffee roaster provided five hessian sacks which will be used as growing beds for potato plants. Andrea also stocked up on 100 litres of compost, seed potatoes and carrot, parsnip, tomato, lettuce and mixed herb seeds, from a local DIY store with the entire bill coming in at just £25.
Andrea explains: “When we got the announcement about the schools closing, I thought ‘dear god what I am going to do with my kids for three months? I looked online for ideas and what I could do outside.”
Costs were important to Andrea as she is concerned that her working hours could be reduced and her second job, It Won’t Cost the Earth, an online sustainability marketplace, is still in the fledgling stages.
Andrea and her two daughters will set up the allotment in the back garden of their rented house and she hopes they will be eating their home-grown veg in a just a few months.
“There is nothing in the garden apart from a four-metre square patio, some lawn and hedges. At the moment we don’t use the space at all. It will be nice to go in the garden for an hour or more a day and do something that we wouldn’t normally do.”
“I have made sure that I have got seeds for vegetables that we eat a lot of, so it will save money when it comes to food shopping too.”
The single mum likes to invent sustainable, low-budget projects for daughters Sophie, 10 and Harriet, 8 to get involved with.
“I have already had so much fun planning it. At first the girls were a bit nervous about being at home but now they are excited about the allotment. I know this will be a big learning curve for all of us. I am hoping the girls will come up with creative ideas as kids have much better imaginations.”
Once the family start producing vegetables, she hopes to seed from them to produce more in their next crop. She intends to use local plant swap groups to build up a wider selection of produce.
Andrea concludes “II am hoping I will be able to trade on local plant swap groups so I could swap carrot seedlings for strawberry plants. It’s like being transported back to the fifties.”