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Teenager Jim is 'allotment king'
MOST teenagers might be glued to their Xbox or TV but Jim Dobromylski hasn’t got time for that – he’s too busy at his allotment.
The 16-year-old not only has his own plot but also runs the Hamble Allotment Association.
And in any spare time he has between studying horticulture at Sparsholt College, working at an orchard and volunteering as a Cub leader at his local Royal British Legion, and at nearby Royal Victoria Country Park, he loves to go to gardening shows and country fairs.
Jim is the first to admit that he is not a typical teenager. He doesn’t even own a computer games console, describing such activities as “a waste of time – I’d much rather be outside.”
Rather than the latest gadgets he’s far more interested in the strimmer, which was recently donated to the association. Always a keen gardener, he had vegetable growing competitions with his brother and sister as a youngster and put his name down on the allotment waiting list in Hamble when he was just 11, getting his plot two years later.
“The parish clerk was very surprised that I wanted to put my name down for an allotment but she said it was OK,” he says.
“I wanted to have my own space to grow more vegetables for my family,” adds Jim.
“I love gardening – I’ve always wanted to do it as a career.
“I love the fresh air, the nice fruit and vegetables you get and being with all the people on the allotment site.”
Jim decided to set up an allotment association last year, with the aim of injecting more life into the allotment.
As well as arranging for people to water each other’s gardens when they’re on holiday and a huge clearance of rubbish on the site, Jim organises social events, such as barbecues for allotment holders.
“I wanted to get more community spirit,” says Jim.
The other allotment holders agree that Jim has turned it around and made it a far more sociable place to be.
Jim says that now the allotment holders, who range in age from 16 to 98, are now like a big family.
“A lot of my friends thought it was weird at first that I came here,” he says.
“They don’t think it’s very cool. They say ‘what are you doing hanging round with old people?” he laughs.
“But people’s reactions have never been a problem.
It’s what I want to do, so it’s up to me, really.”
Young people who have hobbies that are more associated with those who are retired are often nicknamed ‘young fogies’ but it’s not a term Jim is familiar with.
“I’ve been called the Allotment King,” he says. “I got an award with that on it when I left school.”
Jim hasn’t been able to convince any of his friends to take up gardening, but they do help him out at the allotment from time to time, getting stuck into some digging or helping build his polytunnel.
And for him, there’s nothing he’d rather be doing than pottering round on his plot.
“I spend at least an hour a day here now I’m at college.
In the summer I spent days at a time here.
“I’d definitely encourage other young people to get an allotment or do anything outdoors. It’s great!”
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