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Moor Green Allotments

An Oasis in the Centre of Birmingham, England

NEWSLETTERS

Moor Green Matters,

January 2015


Dear Plot holder

Welcome to Moor Green Matters

This edition:

Editorial

Association Committee news

Zone representatives

General matters

Flower beds and site history

Letters to follow the Autumn plot inspections

Rent renewal, newcomers and transfers

Tool lockers and sheds

Protecting your fruit cage against winter weather

Moor Green Seed Store

New website on the way

Watch the exciting Youtube diary of Lottie’s plot


Coming next month:

Website preview


Editorial

January is the darkest month of winter but the good news is that although the soil is getting colder, the days are getting longer. Our torch lit stumble to shut the poly tunnel for the night saw a couple of badgers scurry off, probably the same badgers that got fat on many plot holders veg patch last year! Christmas may have come and gone, but there is always something to do down on the plot, so look out for the articles about what to do this month and determine your 2015 resolutions now! A new feature of this years newsletters will be Lottie’s plot - click on the Youtube link towards the end, sit down with a glass of something and enjoy her adventures as a new plot holder. Finally, before we put 2014 to bed huge thanks to all those of you who paid your rent on time - it was very gratifying to chat with so many plot holders, to learn of your horticultural successes  and to discuss your aspirations for the forth coming year. So plant the complimentary bulbs we shared and begin your contribution to our Ruby celebrations in 2016.


Association Committee news

After much consternation and following lengthy deliberations with Birmingham City Council allotment officers we have, at last, signed the water agreement. The first implication is that we, the Association, are now responsible for paying our water bill direct to Severn Trent from a budget devolved to us from the City Council. The budget should be devolved with sufficient funds to pay for water used by the house at No11 as well what we use on site. If we are prudent we could make cost savings to benefit the site, conversely if we are profligate the water could be turned off until our next budget payment. (see the item on water harvesting). The second implication is that the management of the site has now passed to the Association - that is all plot holders and paid up social members. Services provided by the Council are minimal  and primarily amount to grounds maintenance. So folks, it’s down to us all to maintain the site and the pleasant environment that we all like to enjoy.


We were sorry to loose Louise O’Hanlon (zone A, plot 49) from the Association Committee in November. Louise volunteered her help back in April and joined the 2014 - 2015 Committee in May. However, changes at work necessitated selling her house and moving to Gloucestershire with her husband and, of course, relinquishing her plot (subsequently re-let this month). Louise will be remembered for her annual support to the Produce Show, winning ten or more certificates each year. Most notable were the Globe Artichokes that won first prize year on year.


Louise’s move clearly depletes the Committee and to that end we will invite the next person on the nominations/voting list to join the Committee until the AGM in April. More of this next time.


Meanwhile the Committee continues to meet monthly to ensure that the site runs smoothly and that the needs of plot holders are met as far as we are able. Any member is welcome to observe committee meetings.


 


Zone representatives - repeated for those who missed it.....

With the departure of Louise we have had to put in place a temporary representative in Zone A. Geraldine Clifford-Goldburgh, who has plots 57, 60, 61 and 69, has kindly agreed to be your representative. You will see her around on site and should be your first point of contact if you are in Zone A.

Last edition we shared with you the ten zones and their representatives and have subsequently posted the associated maps around the site. This map is also attached for new plot holders, of which we have at least twelve. Zoning the site is working well and we hope to continue developing this approach to site management following devolved responsibility. Do please contact your zone representative in the first instance if you have a query, suggestion or complaint!


Some general matters.....

Water harvesting is vital now that we have a finite water budget. Blue barrels continue to be available from the Seed Store and IBCs can be obtained to order. During the autumn plot inspection it was noted where tenants were not collecting water and we will be writing to those plot holders requesting that measures be put in place. For example where plot holders have built shelters with gutters into barrels and IBCs they are now full, following the autumn/winter rain.


November was bonfire month and it was no surprise to see the white smoke go up on the first day of the month. No more bonfires now please until March.


Sadly we recently suffered an onslaught of vandalism to some of our tool lockers, which were forced open. Fortunately we don't think anything was stolen, but do be vigilant and ensure your locker is well secured. The responsibility for locker doors and security rests with individual tenants. Have you thought about purchasing a shed alarm? It may just deter opportunists. Meanwhile do ensure the three gates through to Canon Hill Park are securely locked at all times. The ’99’ genuine keys, cut from an original, all operate the padlocks. We were not the only site to be targeted - there has be a general increase in shed theft since the clocks changed.

A recent email form our allotment officer, Nicki Bradley read:


There have been a number of very serious break-ins over the past month across the City, including a further 2 this weekend. Please alert your plot holders to the problem, and ask them to remove valuable tools from the site over winter. Whilst this spate of theft and damage is occurring, it may also be worth considering removing items of value that the Association have from the site for the winter period – such as tools and items for events. If your site is targeted, please ensure that the incident is reported to the Police. If individual tenants have items stolen, please encourage them to obtain a crime number. Your local Police Officers may assist with increased patrols in the area or advise on other deterrents to keep the site as safe as possible.


We will be turning the water off to the top half of the site, i.e. beyond the Pavilion this month through until the spring to protect the pipework. This means that the only toilets available during the week are by Holder’s Gate. These are due to be tidied up before the water goes off. Frosty weather also gives rise to burst pipes - do please look at the pipes in your zone when you are on site and report any suspected leaks to your representative or to Jenny. If you are in Zone B do keep an eye on stand pipe 4, by plot 77, which has had a repair to an under ground leak.


Community payback will be moving to the lower half of the site while the water is turned off. That means they will be working in zones A, B, C, D and E to tidy over grown vegetation, clear paths and generally help keep the site tidy. They do not have a licence to remove rubbish from the site, only green waste, so do please remove your own non-compostable rubbish. We will organise a rubbish amnesty and organise more Hippo skips in the near future.


Throughout the summer there was an increase in the number of cars parked on grass verges. Whilst this does less harm on dry ground than when the weather is very damp, it is still in contravention of the Council Allotment rules and unnecessary given the ample designated parking places. We have written to persistent offenders, but as a reminder the rule is stated below


6.11  The Tenant shall not park a vehicle anywhere on the Site other than within defined parking areas. No vehicle, trailer, caravan or similar equipment is to be left on the Site overnight.

Pavilion opening hours have changed for the winter season and are as follows:

Friday  6.00 pm until midnight

Saturday midday until midnight

Sunday midday until 7.00 pm


Did you receive your complimentary flower bulbs?

To get plot holders started on tidying up the site in readiness for our ruby celebration in 2016 every plot holder received a complimentary bag of flower bulbs for the front of their plot when they paid their rent. Do please take a look at your plot from the road way and determine how you can help smarten up the site. A 30 cm  deep flower bed along the front of each plot would be wonderful! We are making progress on a booklet detailing the history of our site and hope, very soon, to commission a researcher. If you know any previous plot holders, particularly those with stories to tell about the early days of the site, do please contact Rex Harris, Treasurer, via the Pavilion.


We’ve spoken to plot holders personally following the Autumn plot inspection…

Rent collection provided the opportunity to personally speak with some of you who need to do more work on your plot to keep it pukka. We hope you will respond positively to our advice and make the effort to cultivate your plot for the Winter. We have managed  to get wood chip delivered to the site to help create paths and there are plenty of leaves being dropped off by three reliable companies to mulch the soil. Also see the Seed store section for details of semi-permeable ground cover.


Rent renewal, newcomers and transfers

Thumbs up to the majority of plot holders who paid their rent before 9 November and especially those who paid early - it was somewhat of a mad scramble as plot holders queued to pay during the last week of rent collection. Please don’t leave it to the last minute next year! Thumbs down to a few of you who missed the deadline and have had to pay an extra £10.00 late fee - lessons to be learnt there as well. Sixteen plot holders have not renewed, the majority of whom let us know, cleared their tool lockers and removed any rubbish from their plots. Sadly a few selfish plot holders have left a trail of debris for the Association to clear:


Would you believe what a couple of miscreants have left?

• A tool locker full to the ceiling with household rubbish and garden tools - we had to cut off the lock to gain entry and couldn’t get inside for ‘stuff’.

• A plot with two very scruffy structures that had clearly been used to store junk  - photos attached - now piled up for collection behind the Pavilion.

We really don’t wasn't to spend hard earned funds removing rubbish from the site. It will cost us dearly to get it all emptied and removed. We are grateful to Steve Gwynne and friends who spent three or more days clearing plots and burning what they were able. Whilst we encourage everyone to recycle and reuse there is a limit, so please don’t bring onto site more that you can usefully use and certainly don’t store your unwanted household items on your plot!!











We welcome the following new comers/transfers to the site:

Rvd. Keith and Sue Bishop  Plot 49  Zone A

Charlotte Birkett   Plot 112 Zone F

Charlotte TSP    Plot 137B Zone G

Helen Kelly    Plot 137A Zone G

Patrick Gleeson   Plot 138B Zone G

Cathy Plourde and Kara Larson Plot 229 Zone J

Sarah Ashley    Plot 227B Zone J

Jeptha Nunes    Plot 222 Zone J

Yvonne Whittingham   Plot 197 Zone K


If they are in your zone do introduce yourself and make them feel welcome.


The Seed Store is opened by request ONLY during the winter months. Please call into the Pavilion and ask for Mick Docker or Peter Jupe

During the winter season we are stocking….

Broad beans ( Aquadulce and the Sutton) - plant them now for an early crop

Blue barrels @ just £7.50

Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) by pre-order, price available on request, depending on size

Compost & Horse manure (mix ‘n’ match) @ £12.00 for three bags. Individual prices vary


NEW in Store...


Goundtex heavy duty woven ground cover fabric, lined to assist cutting. Ideal for covering prepared ground, raised beds and as a base for paths. Suppresses weeds, but allows water and nutrients to drain through. (see attachments from Ranger Dean’s Master Class last month on preparing your plot for Autumn). Re-usable each season, just cut to required size.

Sizes:

4.5m wide @ £2.00 per m

2m wide    @ £1.00 per m
















Prices competitive with Amazon and eBay, high street prices c£1.50 sq m. Once again the Seed Store can save you money, postage and hassle - good scissors required!

Opening hours:

12.30 - 2.00 Saturdays and Sundays during the Autumn and Winter, via the Pavilion


Thank you for helping us deal with the conundrum that was tool lockers and sheds...

and even though the rough plans were not of cartography standard, with your help we’ve mapped out which tool lockers are associated with each plot. A great achievement demonstrating, yet again, what a group of 250 or more volunteers can achieve when they set their minds to it!


So that’s the good news! The not so good news is that you are individually responsible for keeping your tool locker door in good condition and as a group thinking about how you keep the block in good repair. We’ll also discuss it as an Association Committee to see what help we can offer. It would be great if everyone could mark up their locker door with their plot number for future reference.


Regrettably the Council no longer offers any help with locker blocks (haven’t done so for years) - in fact the only help they offered when approached recently was to demolish the blocks and recycle the materials!!


Winter weather and protecting your fruit cage

See the attached article from Oz about how to protect your fruit cage during the winter weather, especially if the predicted snow falls heavily in the Midlands.


Moor Green Allotment website

Work is well under way with a completely revamped website. Enormous thanks to Shayne Parker for all his work on the original site, which is no longer on line. We have commissioned a web developer and using Serif software he is rebuilding the site to include some new and exciting features - a picture gallery, weather watch, horticultural know how along with video clips and , now, Youtube footage. Six plot holders agreed to be critical friends during the development phase and already we have made changes following their suggestions. There is still time to be a critical friend - if you are interested drop me an email and I’ll send you the link. We plan to launch the site at our AGM in April, when we will also have wifi available in the Pavilion.


Lottie’s plot

Going back to work after the festive season has never been anyone's favourite time of year so to brighten your start here is a Youtube film clip from one of our newest allotment plot holders, Charlotte Birkett. Charlotte took on her tenancy at Moor Green allotments in late October. She and her dad have started a filming project to continue over the next twelve months and I think you’ll agree they have made a cracking start. 

 

I should warn you the clip is 16 minutes long, so make a coffee before you sit down to watch it. Enjoy - it knocks the Big Allotment Challenge into touch!

http://youtu.be/OOjs2SkgrBw


As one of our Ward Councillors wrote when they watched the clip - A labour of love undertaken by a force of nature


Pavilion hire

Along with devolved management the Council have tightened up on the procedures for Pavilion hire. Event booking forms, together with Risk Assessments, have to be with allotment officers at least four weeks in advance for permission to hold events and check insurance details. This means we need them well before the event, especially if you are requesting a bar licence extension. Contact Mark Wright, Pavilion Manager, for details and availability on 07542923424.


We have re-stocked the magazine carousel with winter copies of horticultural magazines, including 'Grow your own', Gardener’s World’, ‘RHS Garden’ and 'Kitchen Garden', and for bird-lovers, back issues of Birding’, ‘RSPB’ and other wildlife magazine, so do call in and look at some of the copies over a glass of something good


News from the Field Friends

Lost doggie

Nero the dog (photo attached)  has been lost from Middlemore Road Northfield since 31st December.  He was a rescue and is very nervous.  If you see him please ring his very worried owners on 07785 774281.

Conservation work

The Field Friends are carrying on with their regular conservation activities in the woods and Brockley Grove during 2015 - as before meet at 2.00 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month, meeting at the noticeboard in the car park off Holders Lane. Tools will be provided and gloves are available, but if you have your own please do bring them.


the last word....

There are 3 pdf attachments and two images

Zone map and representatives

Zone representative contact list

Winter weather and your fruit cage

Images of the despair on our faces when we saw what one plot holder had left in the structures on his plot!

Nero the lost dog


Up April 2015 April 2015 Extras January 2015 July - August 2014