The allotment is one of the United Kingdom’s greatest achievements, unrepeated I believe anywhere else. In exchange for moving in to shoeboxes stacked upon each other the British poor were given a back garden somewhere else – a nearby shared field converted into small plots where they could grow some food and still experience something of a life outdoors, connected to the seasons. And who could have guessed that, at the same time, the allotment could also be such an effective metaphor for life in modern England.
In Richard Laxton’s film Grow Your Own, the spare plots at a Liverpool allotment are being allocated to refugees, to help them adjust to life in their new country and give them something to do during the otherwise long days. The locals, led by ex-cop Big John (Philip Jackson) with the help of his downtrodden son Little John (Eddie Marsan from Happy-Go-Lucky), don’t like the idea of their patch being invaded by “gypos” and turn a cold shoulder to their new neighbours.