STORIES

Black Country Allotment Society

Susie Parr

Walking through the allotment gate, you step away from the clamour and tensions of the street and enter a quiet place, where people connect with plants, the seasons and each other. In this work, I celebrate those connections.

Susie Parr

Black Country Allotment Society is a Multistory commissioned publication by Susie Parr, author of the critically acclaimed ‘Story of Swimming’.  Susie writes about the lives and experiences of plot holders from eight allotments set in the heart of Sandwell, using the wider Black Country as context.  Her closely observed stories are a celebration of community, resourcefulness and ingenuity, beautifully produced in a box of delights. In nine essays, Susie explores the allotment sites, introducing us to their history, cast of characters and quirky differences.  Focused on the everyday and the ordinary, she reveals the extraordinary endeavour and achievements of the plot holders, tracing the seasonal changes, the relationship between allotment people, plants, bees and animals and the cycle of allotment activities, from sowing to reaping. Susie’s project introduces us to the hidden, but thriving, allotment society at the heart of the striking post-industrial landscape of the Black Country where people unite across cultural and generational barriers in an endeavour to make their plots beautiful, orderly and productive, as the seasons pass and the years roll by. Multistory also commissioned local film-maker, Chris Keenan, to make Bee Movies, a film that tells the story of Black Country beekeepers, a community that is growing rapidly as more people become fascinated by bees and try out beekeeping for themselves. The nine essays are presented in a specially designed box together with a series of postcards, two maps, a commemorative allotment society pencil, plant markers, wildflower seeds and the Bee Movies DVD. This extraordinary, celebratory publication has been gifted to all of the allotment holders and beekeepers who took part in the project.

You can buy it from Multistory’s online shop (limited number available). Read Colin Pantall’s review on his blog here. Book Launch The images shown to the right were taken at a celebratory event that we hosted at the West Bromwich Town Hall on 9 October 2014, to launch the publication and gift a copy to all of the allotment holders and beekeepers who took part in the project. News We are delighted that Susie Parr’s specially commissioned publication was Highly Commended at the British Book Design & Production Awards 2015 (Self Published category). Find out more here. Susie Parr is a writer and researcher, and an amateur beekeeper.  Her previous books include:  The Story of Swimming, The Non-Conformists and Talking about Aphasia.