IN THE same seven days as the country marked National Allotments Week, here in our county an ever-growing number of enthusiasts highlighted the nation’s love affair with the soil and demonstrated the therapeutic appeal of getting your hands dirty.

In fact, one nine-acre plot in particular is a leading example of the successful reinvention of city land use. As the Florence Park demographic develops, thirty-somethings in flat caps with kids in tow have also unearthed the rare gem that the area’s older residents have cherished for a quarter of a century.

More so, Elder Stubbs Allotments also provide an annual platform for a whole host of community groups to raise valuable funds for their worthy causes. With the sun beaming down upon us, the family festival once again drew the crowds and brought the OX4 community together in a way that only this event can.

Set in the beautiful East Oxford site off Rymers Lane, this celebrated local gathering for local people is always simply magical and has enticed me (for one) back year upon year - ever since I witnessed Lemmy’s former Hawkwind band mate Huw Lloyd-Langton rockin’ out amongst the prize-winning marrows. And, with this year’s theme being topsy-turvy classic Alice In Wonderland, we’re invited to go down the rabbit hole and join the Mad Hatter’s tea party – complete with kaleidoscopically coloured fairy cakes and an endless pot of tea for two.

With over 50 stallholders presenting their homemade wares in this suburban oasis it really is colourful in every sense of the word. And, I’ve no doubt it’s one of the only places you’ll ever visit where exotic belly dancers, yoga gurus and performance poets rub shoulders amongst soaring sunflowers, abundant produce and picture-perfect potting sheds.

Winding my merry way through the apple orchard and past the impressive driftwood dinosaur sculptures I discover a diverse range of family attractions from willow weaving workshops and contemporary arts to world cuisine and live music from the likes of main stage headliner Emily Maguire, Raw Sounds and deaf choir Handy Voices - who as well as performing themselves were teaching others how to sign along to popular songs. Plus, regular favourite DJ Natty Mark’s Dub Hi-Fi once again taking us into the sunset and beyond.

This truly is a unique celebration of a unique community – highlighting awareness of mental health whilst raising essential funds for Cowley-based charity Restore. Celebrating their fortieth year, the organisation supports those in need to develop skills, build confidence and regain well-being through group activities such as woodwork, cooking and, of course, good ol’ gardening.

To find out how you can help make a difference too visit