Returning plot number 22

Returning plot number 22 to the Abbey Gardens allotment association.

I spent Sunday the 15th August clearing up the majority of the weeds from plot number 22. The intention was to make sure that the next person could take it on quite easily without needing to do any immediate work or weeding.

There are plenty of established plants. They will remain. Also there are some vegetables that will need to be dug up, so even though it is late in the season anybody taking on the plot will have some produce to take home.

I’ve left the black sheeting, each piece is 5x5m square and I straightened the borders of the plot so they were 5m wide. The next person can easily cover up and stop the weeds when they have not planted.

It’s in a good state for somebody new to take on, even this late in the season.

I had emailed the allotment association just before the AGM meeting on Friday the 13th August 2021, and when I spoke to people on the committee they were aware of the transfer.

Since my notification to the committee came on the eve of the AGM and the previous committee all resigned, the new committee was voted in during the AGM. It was as expected, there is some small confusions as the responsibility is shifted across, so although my notification was received — processing will take time.

The 2020 AGM meeting (a new earlier date)

The annual general meeting this year happened early, in January, instead of March or April like it used to do. An earlier date for this meeting is part of the changes which have been made since last year’s AGM meeting.

Last year’s AGM was a marathon of things going wrong for the Allotment Association — not least because of the previous owner’s proposal to take over the allotment garden with a large industrial composing section in the central area of the garden plots. This would have ruined the allotment all together and put a stop to hundreds and hundreds of years of an allotment garden being situated on this site.

But this year, the AGM was the complete opposite. And this was totally due to the people who have come forward in the last year to help run the gardens, assist with liaising with the owners and bring back the community side into the allotment gardens again.

I’ve got two plots again, number 22 as usual and number 25 ( the long one against the wall) but I intend to hand the long one back this year. My good intentions for the year are to clean up the borders surrounding my plot and hand back the long 25 plot… let’s see if I do it 😋

First dig of the year

Friday, the 10th of January 2020.

Friday afternoon just before sunset I did a quick visit to the allotment plot. Mainly to cover up part of the half I had left unfinished from November last year and partly because I had not been since November last year and I needed to assess what was remaining .

Over Christmas I had received a letter notifying about the AGM which had been been brought forward into January. In fact, the AGM was now dated the 18th of January: next Saturday!

I did a little bit of clearing was managed before the sunset and pitch blackness descended. Maybe about 20 minutes was accomplished — not much really, but the dark evenings and allotment digging don’t really go hand in hand easily with a full time job.

Some of the weeds were still alive, some of the grass seem like it was growing. I expected the cold of the winter to kill off lots of the hugs and stop other things growing, however the weather has not been very cold over Christmas this year. Some of the ground I had turned over in November had started to grow grass.

But I finished what I needed to do and covered up some more of the plot. I intend to dig and clear more soon if the weather allows…

The night of the 2019 AGM

It started to rain at about 6 pm tonight. All throughout today there have been very high winds. As I arrive in the village, and walk down the street towards the Village Hall, the rain is coming down and the wind is howling.

This picture was taken just before I entered the village hall where the AGM was being held. The time is 7:23 pm and the AGM starts tonight at 7:30 pm. Looking at the picture again, it looks like a beautiful evening and very picturesque. On the way in I could even smell log fires, and cooking from some of the houses.

But that’s just on the surface looking in from outside, the weather is actually really bad.

Last years AGM only took 15 minutes from start to finish. After the meeting minutes had been read out, people went back to chatting and drinking cups of tea, then there was a quiz; some of the people broke out the wine – that is the way AGM meetings usually turn out. It’s laid back.

This year, I thought I was slightly early but I struggled to find a seat in the hall. It was packed, and I didn’t realise there were so many allotment holders in the Association. There was also a representative from the council (I’ve seen them several times in this meeting now), and the landowner of the allotments was represented and ready to give an explanation of their plans, and to take any questions.

To give you an idea of how bad the weather actually is, the AGM this year took over two hours to complete.

The first hour was taken up entirely with questions from the floor directed at the landowner. The second hour was the actual AGM were the main topic of conversation was (again) the proposed large composting area in the centre of the walled garden allotment.

To me, before the AGM started tonight (actually, from weeks and weeks ago) it has been quite clear: there are only two choices presented. Either the landowner takes the land back and uses it for a different purpose, or they don’t.

I’m sure the landowner know what answer they expect to get when presenting that simple question to the allotment holders! How unkind would be of me if I suggested the landowner didn’t know the answer to a completely black-and-white question with no room for discussion? Shall we take the land off you or not? What do you think to that?

Many people stood up and gave their opinion of why it was a bad idea, and several people, I am very humbled to say, stood up and defended me specifically and the effort I had put into the plot over the years.

But to me, this was not the point. It’s not about the hundreds of reasons why they shouldn’t use the land in this way. Because the answer to “do the allotment holders want the change of use?” must already be known. The answer is no and the landowner surely knows that already.

So my first question was, what other places have you considered? But nothing else was presented this evening, just that they are going to consider taking the land off the allotment holders and use it for composting instead.

So finally, at the end of the AGM, there was a vote. It was 100% of the allotment holders: “no to the change of use”, versus, two people who volunteer for the landowner but also hold an allotment, one said “yes, in principle” and the other abstained.

That’s not a surprise to me.

It is a surprise that the landowner thinks that asking the question in the way they did is such a good idea. When it’s such a binary choice the answer will also be similarly polarised.

My plot #22 could be gone

The AGM letter has been posted through my door. This year the usual invoice also came with a letter of notification about the proposed changes to the allotment.

It said, the allotment holders have been advised that an area covering a large portion of the centre of the allotment in the walled garden has been identified for a possible change of use. The area is marked for composting and chipping, essentially taking the land away from the allotment holders and returning it to the lease provider.

My main plot is number 22. I also hold number 25, but really I only hold that one to keep it under control after the previous owner left and the weeds started to grow.

The lease provider of the allotment land, owns plots number 26 and 24, although 24 is made up of grass that is at least knee high, and 26 seems to be used as a dumping ground for their plastic trays.

Plot numbers 23 and 24 are owned by the same person, and I think they have a third plot. Three plots must be a struggle to keep up I think. Plot number 13A doesn’t have an owner at the moment: the last owner was evicted and they went leaving the plot in a poor state and full of large plastic containers.

The last plot is number 13B, and that is in a good state: always tended. A lot of hard work has gone into that one, a lot like mine, number 22.

There are therefore a reduced number of people in this local vicinity that would be directly affected and if the change-of-use for the land is approved by the other allotment holders, I would find it difficult to fight the landowner on my own over this. If this turns out to be the case, I would need to cancel my membership and go elsewhere.

Further discussions on this topic seems to have been halted until the date of the AGM. The landowner is going to be present at this meeting, and will deliver their proposals for the change-of-use. I guess we will find out on the 16th of March.

I think I’m losing the plot

… Not my mind. I’ve just had the allotment association on the telephone. The landowner wants to evict five (?) plot holders to make way for a large mulching and compost area with tractor access. That would mean my area and four other plots including the huge pone in the middle of the walked garden allotment.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is a really bad idea. Not just because I am affected, but because it will take up the majority of the centre of the allotment: prime area. And it will also affect my neighbours. It will affect most people in the allotment.

I will have to say no and oppose the request.

I am meeting to talk about it with the other directly affected allotment owner(s) sometime this month. These talks will continue, and will be brought up at the annual general meeting.

The night of the 2018 AGM

Tonight was the allotment and garden AGM in the local village hall and meeting rooms. The meeting was brief and only took 15 minutes to cover all the topics from the minutes. The allotment association was in a healthy credit this year and had another surplus of £500 this year alone. The fee remained the same for that reason. But possibly as money is used this year to keep up with allotments that are not up to standard this surplus might change next year. There were only two small questions at the end. Things moved rapidly onto the quiz and the wine.

The meeting went well and I leaned a little bit this year. I’m going to order a catalogue for seeds for instance. The allotment association earn money from them and it’s better to send it to them instead of the local garden centre I suppose.