Agile gardening adventures

Andy Tabberer
3 min readOct 25, 2023


Inspired by @liannemellor and her agile gardening post, here’s my take on agile ways of working through the medium of an allotment diary.

Our allotment with a freshly dug bed

Gardening is rich with workplace metaphors.

A propagator = an environment for safe-to-fail experiments. Those that work go into the greenhouse (we scale). Those that don’t we learn something about our environment which we take into future experiments

Delivery in action at the allotment

Goal — we’ll be eating organic potatoes this summer. The first iteration was to clear a grass-infested area. The second was to dig up and replant gooseberry bushes that were in situ. For this iteration, I dug over and weeded a small patch, with paving slabs added to block grass/weed overspill — the value (again) is future capability. Next iteration, the value will be we can now grow veg (potatoes planted). Then we start on another small patch. And repeat.

The latest allotment sprint

Research spike to test the size and suitability of the pathing slabs we’d put aside for our final wall — success! We refactored our ‘dug’ bed by removing a further ton of bindweed. Finally, we extended the bed another metre to enhance its future capability. Moved closer to our goal of eating organic spuds this summer.

The agile allotment

We’ve changed direction (pivoted 😜) due to a new opportunity (a cheap greenhouse became available). This better meets our emerging needs as we have lots of toms, chilies, etc growing around the house and we can grow more varied, specialist produce. Today’s sprint goal: we have cleared and leveled the ground ready for greenhouse assembly (future capability & learning/skills development).


Lots of timeboxed graft and activity this weekend, embracing change, but staying focused on what is most valuable, we have turned an overgrown, unloved, and unproductive area of the allotment into a potato patch, a tool storage area, and a greenhouse full of toms and chilies.

What you learn at work you can apply at home and vice versa!

Work mirrors allotment life part 20

Day off. Preparing two beds at the allotment for crop rotation. I am doing something similar at work with new teams forming. Preparing fertile ground to grow. Right people in the right place. Sharing what we learn from our most recent experience.

More agile allotmenteering today

We are paving our allotment (with recycled slabs) so it is safer to walk around and kill off bindweed.

Used story slicing to consider our options. We opted for paving the path by the greenhouse as it has high use and high bindweed levels.


What lessons can we learn from Organoponicos when it comes to our teams? This is the epic tale of Cuba’s pursuit of self-reliance and sustainability when its trade was cut off — when the USSR collapsed, so did Cuba’s food and fuel supplies. The ‘grow your own [food] rather than import it’ approach could be applied in the workplace. Cultivate the space between teams, the knowledge in-between disciplines, like the Cubans did with public green space. Encourage cross-functional teams to form supported by experts, like the urban farmer co-operatives supported by universities. Give people the skills to grow/nurture the people they need, trained by experts in each discipline, and coached to understand the relationships between each role. These people would ‘naturally’ work across teams, cultivate cross-functional teams, be the fertilizer for sustained growth, and be self-reliant ps I’ve had too much coffee (again).

Happy gardening!



Andy Tabberer

I'm curious about standards, systems and people. Proud to be the Standards and Practices at Coop Digital ❤️