I did ask who owned it and if anyone had seen someone working on it, but I kept getting answers like 'oh it belongs to some charity' and all these charities that it was meant to have links with would be listed but everyone said someone different and NO, they had never bothered to go over if they did see anyone there. Maddening!
Then salvation came (sort of) in the form of the Family Fun Day. A group of people turned up and hoisted a flag and a big notice board saying 'Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland', plus another poster went up detailing a charity called 'MindWise'. I really did intend to go over and say "Hello" but as you all know I spent that afternoon running around like a headless chicken. When I did have the time, they had disappeared (again, like pixies...) so I wrote a note and pinned it to the shed.
The next day I got an e-mail from a lovely lady called Helen and all was made clear. Join me as I explain.
So, the plot did belong to a charity, a few in fact (hence the confusion around the place). It was run by Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland with volunteers from Belfast with a group of people from the charity Mindwise (from Carrick) and a volunteer from The Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Group.
Helen wrote: 'Most of the people we work with on the lottie have mental health issues and they also find the work very therapeutic and are happy to tell people about the benefits of working outdoors. We have good craic while we work and the guys all loved the event on Saturday. It was great to meet other lottie holders who we don't normally see on Wednesday mornings.'
So how totally fabulous is that!!!! There's an Ecotherapy group on my freakin' allotments, 2 plots up from me. I was blown away, I was/am so happy that a group of people are there working away, having a laugh and growing as individuals, just like I have been trying to do on my own wee plots. Ecotherapy Rules, my friends!!!! Tell everyone you know, tell people you don't know, grab a random passerby and tell them (yes, the Police may get involved due to you harassing other members of the Public, but wait.... then the papers might get involved and follow the court case - Ecotherapy would be the word on everyone's lips!!!!!) Oh, I'm getting Evangelical about it all I must calm down.
I just wanted to share that. I'm passionate about Ecotherapy and I believe it can work, for everyone, anyone. A connection with nature, getting one's hands dirty, growing food and being around people in a relaxed environment can make you feel better. Okay it isn't going to make you 'better 'and all of a sudden you'll be out there taking over the world, but a smile, a genuine smile on your face and the face of those you care for - THAT is priceless and this is one way of guaranteeing it.
Hopefully I will feel up to accepting Helen's lovely offer to come down of a Wednesday morning and meet everyone. But for now I just want to wish them all continued success and better mental health! xxxx