The Connected Scarecrow
When David (74) and Judy Stower (67) from Watford were given access to an allotment by their parish council in 2008, it became their hobby. They spent weekends there together, while Judy worked as an end-of-life nurse and former British Rail photographer David was enjoying retirement.
Judy’s job was to plant and grow the produce. David built the pathways, operated the machinery and built the shed, which he bought with their two daughters for Judy’s birthday.
The couple transformed the allotment from what Judy describes as ‘a real dump’ to their special get-away from the city.
As their children left home and became parents themselves, Judy and David spent more time there, planting fruit and vegetables that David, a keen cook, would use in their kitchen.
Then a few years ago, David needed surgery on his back, which severely restricted his movement.
“All the work fell to me,” explained Judy. “And I missed David on the allotment.”
For a self-confessed technophobe, Judy was surprised by what they did next.
“A friend suggested we try out a home security camera in our allotment as a way of staying in touch with each other. David set it up easily and our grandson Freddie, who was six at the time, stuffed it into a scarecrow to keep the crows away!”
David was able to chat with Judy and their grandchildren when they were working in the allotment through the V-Camera 4G by Vodafone, and keep an eye on what they were doing on the days he couldn’t join in.
Every morning, the couple would check the camera to see what wildlife the motion-activated camera had captured with its night vision technology.
“We were amazed to watch foxes, small voles and hedgehogs. I enjoyed watching the night camera footage more than watching TV,” she said.
“When we had a nest of robins, I moved the camera so I could watch the baby birds without disturbing the nest. It’s been amazing. And we know our allotment is secure. Although I’m a very reluctant user of technology, we couldn’t not have this camera in our lives now, we would miss it if it wasn’t there.”
Nearly 18 months after first installing the camera, David and Judy’s allotment is thriving and they feel it is secure.
“A good third of our allotment now is stuff that re-grows,” explained Judy. “A quarter of it is raspberry canes, then we’ve got apple trees, blackberry bushes, Jerusalem artichokes, strawberries and rhubarb. I’ve planted these so I can just go and pick the produce, rather than dig and tend.”
“We grew quite a bit last year with the good weather and when we went away for a few weeks, we brought the camera inside and used it to keep an eye on our home security.”
Some of David and Judy’s favourite clips of the night-time visitors to their allotment were captured by their V-Camera 4G and enjoyed by their three grandchildren whenever they visited.
Judy added: “The camera has helped our technology loving grandkids to want to get involved. Freddie once found some grass snakes, so he lives in hope of discovering them again every time he visits.”