Whilst there is now a flourishing gardening club in Fovant, as described below, early records only describe individual efforts in this field (!). From the Clay papers we can see that in 1843 a widow paid 5¾d per week to rent an allotment (the allotments were on the slope behind the present Dinton Road), whilst in 1852 the annual rent for the average sized plot was five shillings. There were 10 smaller allotments let at 3s.6d. and 2s.6d per annum.
Charles Turner, who kept a diary of the work that he did, makes a few entries about the Allotments, some of them specifically about the Old Allotments, wherever they were. The Fovant Military Railway, that opened in 1915, took a route across allotments as can be seen from the accompanying aerial photograph and whilst fields were made available to the villagers as late as the 1960s, the allottments had by then become grazing fields.
The Fovant Gardening Club was formed in late 1983 at the initiation of Mrs. Pam Fenton and Mrs. Anne Harris, who both had a keen interest in gardening and felt that Fovant needed a forum for non-competitive sharing of gardening knowledge, tips and ideas. They placed a notice in the village Post Office and between them generated a considerable amount of interest, which has been maintained ever since, with the club having grown to a membership of around sixty in 2004.
Meetings are held in the evenings, on the first Thursday of each month in the Village Hall, and the first speaker was Mr. Wally Barrow of Manor Farm, who delivered a talk on orchids. Now there are seven speakers a year, often specialist growers, nursery owners or college lecturers, who are invited, for a fee, to address the members on their relevant area of expertise. In addition, there is one annual coach outing, often undertaken in combination with other local gardening clubs, such as the one at Teffont, and a couple of car outings. These trips allow members to visit renowned gardens in Wiltshire and neighbouring counties, whether owned privately, or by bodies such as the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Trust or English Heritage. An annual Christmas party means that the social emphasis is, as ever, strongly maintained.
The Garden Club continues to beautify our village with floral displays at the junction of the High Street and the A30 and in tubs at other locations.
M.K.K. & M.C.L.H.