The Big Allotment Challenge - Contestants and Judges
Here’s some details about our allotment gardeners.
Edd Curbishley & Harshani Curbishley-Brown, Northamptonshire
Married couple Edd and Harshani are biodynamic and spiritual gardeners, who grow their own produce and believe that all fruit and vegetables have energy.
Harshani and Edd are both interested in spiritual concepts such as Reiki, and like to garden as organically and ethically as possible. They love their garden, and bought the house next door to expand their outside space by combining the gardens. They garden biodynamically, by the phases of the moon, and need to be in a positive frame of mind as they garden, as they believe energy is transferred from planter, to plant, to plate. They are also both keen cooks.
Gary Murdock & Pete Taylor, Hove, East Sussex
Friends and colleagues, Gary and Pete are self-proclaimed ‘lazy gardeners’ who share an allotment and garden by their ethos ‘maximum yield for minimal effort’!
They share one and a half allotments, which they’ve had for three years. They gained the majority of their gardening knowledge from the internet, and have recently taken on keeping bees. Their team dynamics involve Gary doing much of the heavy-duty work, while Pete chats to their allotment neighbours, often trying to work out their game plan for the growing season. Both hate weeding and do as little of this as possible.
Alex Lomax, Wiltshire, & Ed Bond, West Sussex
Alex and Ed are family friends who are both very passionate and knowledgeable gardeners, extremely family orientated and with a competitive streak.
While Ed is a very successful allotmenteer, Alex has just moved house and is currently sitting on the allotment waiting list, doing up his new garden in the meantime. Alex described Ed as the closest it gets to living ‘The Good Life’, as he is always bringing home fresh produce from his allotment. They love working on a project and are very organised. Although they haven’t worked together before, they have very similar ideas.
Jo Wesley & Avril Rogers, Redditch
Gardening fanatics Jo and Avril met 3 years ago through their allotments. They have not gardened together before, but believe their different approaches will complement each other.
Avril and Jo see their allotments as a place for socialising as much as gardening, organising barbeques and dinner parties. They have different approaches to gardening: wildlife fanatic Jo is organised and likes to play it safe; Avril says she is a bit of a maverick, and her allotment is her free space to experiment. Although they are used to working independently, they think they know each other well enough to discuss options and compromise.
Kate Bennett & Eleanor Waterhouse, Winchester
Best friends for more than 30 years, now their own children have flown the nest, Kate and Eleanor are mothers to 2 llamas, who provide the pair’s secret weapon – llama poo!
When Eleanor moved to Winchester, her house had a small town garden, so Kate kindly offered some of her own land for Eleanor to grow her produce on. They soon started growing in harmony and now share responsibility for all of the gardening on Kate’s land. Their pet llamas are a big part of their lives, and they find that the manure they collect from them is perfect as a fertiliser. They are both very hands-on grandmothers, who encourage their grandchildren to get involved with gardening.
Rupert Goddard, Surrey
Rupert is an organised, scientific gardener who grows with military efficiency.
Rupert discovered an enjoyment of gardening when clearing the small garden of a property he was selling, and now tends to his own suburban garden as well as a vast allotment. Gardening is still relatively new to Rupert, but he is committed to growing his own produce
Sally Green & Michelle Stacey, Bexley, Kent
Glamorous sisters-in-law Sally and Michelle love the community and family spirit of their allotment, and think their ditzy blonde personas means they are underestimated.
Clairvoyant, Michelle, and Sally have known each other for more than 25 years. Gardening is a family affair for them, with each having their own allotment alongside cousins, parents and siblings. Michelle loves to wear vintage dresses and heels when gardening, and has decorated their shed complete with pink sofas, while gym-fanatic Sally enjoys the therapeutic nature of gardening. But neither is afraid to get their hands dirty.
Shaun Gagie & Liz Bohler, Manchester
Friends Shaun and Liz share a love of the great outdoors and transformed their staff garden. They are a great balance of Shaun’s expertise and Liz’s organisation.
Shaun and Liz worked together at a housing association until recently, where Liz set up a gardening club and, with Shaun’s help, transformed a communal staff area into a beautiful garden. Shaun is the main gardener of the two, tending to his own large garden with chickens and a vegetable patch, while Liz has less green-fingered experience and will be their planner and organiser, ensuring they run on schedule.
Shirley & Victoria Minnear, Banbury, Oxon
Mother and daughter duo Shirley and Victoria prioritise the health benefits of growing their own produce for their close-knit family on their allotment.
Victoria is the eldest of 4 sisters who are all involved in looking after their garden and allotment, which they have owned for 8 years. Shirley’s husband was the driving force behind getting their allotment, and Victoria learnt her horticultural skills from getting involved in the gardening. Shirley taught Victoria to cook and enjoys using jam made from their own produce with their cakes. Victoria thinks she will be the one doing the heavy lifting and digging, while her mum will be pointing out what needs doing!
Jim Buttress - Growing Expert
Jim is one of the UK’s leading gardening experts. He was Superintendent of the Royal Parks for 25 years, and his clients have included Her Majesty the Queen and the Queen Mother.
Jim has been awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS, the highest accolade in horticulture. He was head judge for Britain in Bloom for 25 years, where he was nicknamed ‘Judge Dread’. His love of gardening began as a schoolboy, where he was made to help out in the walled garden having been excluded from class.
There is nothing he does not know about planting and growing. His dedication to horticulture has seen him judge competitions all over the world.
Jonathan Moseley - Floral Expert
Jonathan has been working professionally with flowers for more than 20 years. His love of flora started at just 11-years-old, when he received a greenhouse from his parents as a birthday present.
He soon started exhibiting and won his first competition at age 12. Jonathan is known within the floral industry for being innovative and creative with his designs. He particularly enjoys nurturing new talent and regularly holds workshops and demonstrations in his current ‘residence’ at Chatsworth House.
Jonathan is former chairman of NAFAS Demonstrators Committee and has been selected to represent the UK in the World Flower Show in Dublin next year.
Thane Prince - Preserves Expert
Thane is a leading cookery writer and teacher. With more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, she can’t remember a time when she didn’t enjoy food. For 12 years she was a food writer for The Daily Telegraph, where she cooked with some of the most highly regarded chefs in the industry.
She then founded the acclaimed Aldeburgh Cookery School, which was rated as one of the top 3 in the UK. Thane has published 12 cookery books, including Jams and Chutneys, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and has been translated into 8 languages. Her favourite thing to make is raspberry jam.