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The story of Jolly Allotment's founder Polly Baldwin Founder

My Story

2015. I was physically in a very dark place, Headaches, chronic fatigue, arthritic joints, sore muscles, eczema, constant pain in my ovary, brain fog, memory loss, numb limbs. I could not see a way out of the dark. I felt like a complete failure that I wasn’t able to hold my life together, So I hid a lot of the symptoms from those close to me.

I began to suffer from anxiety and being self employed I was worried that my job was becoming painful and difficult. I was having ridiculously extreme mood swings, I felt out of control. Doctors insisted I was ‘just a thirty something female with stress and depression’ offering me beta blockers and antidepressants. I was lucky to know through photographing a few medical conferences that these drug options would have no effect and maybe even make me worse.

My physical symptoms and lack of help and understanding led to anxiety and anger. It destroyed my life as I knew it. I was frightened I would never feel like myself again, never be able to enjoy the adventurous life I loved. I was desperately trying to keep my career as an international events and editorial photographer which was increasingly more difficult. I felt completely alone in a room full of people. All I wanted was to be able to ride my bike, walk my dog, take photographs and live life without the pain or fear.

The hardest thing for me was the brain fog, memory loss and anxiety it made both my personal and professional life very difficult. My whole world fell apart.

This is where my friends stepped in. I am lucky to have some wonderful friends that work in the field of Natural Health and Wellbeing. My chiropractor had become a close friend after I’d photographed her wedding and she could see from the deterioration in both my body and mind that I needed help. So she set me on the track to fix myself from the inside out.

All I wanted was to feel positive and jolly again and have the energy to power my body and mind so I could work. She set me on a track to a more chemical free, organic, gut friendly life and with the help of my brilliant nutritionist, my dog and my allotment. I’ve fixed myself without the need for medication.

So what was wrong I hear you ask, because everyone needs a reason they feel so bad, a label, and if you don’t have a label then it must all be in your head?!

Well your gut is closely linked to your brain, what you put into your gut ultimately feeds the mind, body and soul. It’s your fuel in gardening terms, your manure.

Well after much investigation it turns out I do have a label. In 2014 I was a fitter and healthier than average 30 something year old. I loved nothing more than to ride my bike in the mountains for up to 150km a day, I was a ski photographer with a physically demanding job, I felt great, I ate pretty much what I liked and my body coped, but in 2014 I got bitten by a spider.

This was the trigger to all my problems. I’d been coeliac (I didn’t know) all my life but my strong constitution had coped with it, I just fed the fatigue caused by the gluten with sugar. The venom from the bite destroyed my immune system causing my body to break down.

Ultimately this spider bite changed me and my outlook on life. I am grateful for it now. Its led me to discover a simpler more fulfilling, calmer way to live and ultimately improved my respect for myself and how I treat my body and mind. I know if you suffer from any of these symptoms whatever the reason the recovery starts from the inside. Your body is a remarkable thing that deserves a little love care and attention as do you! Look after your gut and your gut will look after you.

My allotment and my dog were the only things that got me out of bed when I was really sick and when I harvested my first crop I felt joy, self satisfaction and a sense of achievement, joy, all things I hadn’t felt in a long time it gave me hope and strength to keep going. It was my place to go to feel jolly again. The health benefits not only from the organic goodness I was producing but also from the physical act of growing my own nutrition played a massive part in fixing my body mind and soul! So grow your own organic goodness for wellness and be jolly inside and out!

The Jolly Journal

The Jolly Journal is to show the benefits of being Gut Healthy through organic, chemical-free living for the mind and the body.

I gained so many health benefits both mentally and physically from growing my own food that it triggered me to grow the Journal around daily allotment life.

I love the metaphor of the allotment being a place to grow as my whole recovery has helped me to grow in so many ways. The Journal will be about allotment life, how to grow something, why it is good for you, when it is in season and what to cook with it. I want to show that growing food is not rocket science and people shouldn’t be scared of it.

Don’t miss guest journal articles from my network of health and well-being professionals. The darkest hours for me were when I didn’t know who to turn to for help and I was lucky to have so many friends with amazing knowledge in natural health both physical and mental. So I want Jolly Allotment both live and online to be a place where people can go to find lots of information on how to get help and advice. I also want to give tips on how to make good healthy allergen free food for travelling and while away from your own kitchen.

I am not an expert and I am not glamorous it’s really important to me that everything feels real and authentic as most people that talk about this stuff look like they live a charmed unobtainable existence and I really struggled with this mentally during my recovery. It has to be beautiful but real! It’s got to be about feeling good from the inside.

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