Page 4 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 4

 What an interesting year this is going tobe–butnotinthewaythatwewere anticipating. We have had messages from all over the country that birthday celebrations are that are now unlikely to take place because of the social distancing we are all practicing to combat the coronavirus. I was looking forward to visiting quite a few of the events themselves and hope that perhaps later in the year they will be able to go ahead.
Sadly, all the Garden Shows up to
the end of June have been cancelled, including Gardeners’ World Live, Malvern and the Harrogate Spring Shows. The West Midlands team have taken over the Malvern Show following the retirement of Colin and Rosemary Smith, who kept the NAS display
to such a high standard over many years. Many thanks to them for doing such sterling work for so long. Using their experience from the last 3 years at Gardeners’ World Live, the West Midlands team are hoping to be able to put on an impressive display at Malvern Autumn Show.
As I write this, Storm Dennis is banging on the windows, as if his sister Ciara didn’t cause enough of a problem last week. Luckily, I managed some time on my own plot between visits to parish councils, and a lot more of the plot is ready for the warm sunshine, which I am assured will be arriving soon; but whether it will be a summer like ’76, who knows? 1976 – what a summer
– hot, dry and endless blue skies. Dry weather in east Manchester next to the Pennines is, as you can guess, a rarity. It was the year I was first offered my present allotment. The site was handy, but semi-derelict. There were nine gardeners on an area for twenty
plus. One chap, George T, had three plots, all kept beautifully. I was offered a choice of five plots. I chose the one with the biggest weeds. The soil was really lacking in humus and it was very acidic. My first leeks looked like spring onions, and I worried that, if the wind got up in the dry summer, it would blow away the soil. George T lent me his wheelbarrow (a coke barrow from the gas works), and he showed me the local farm 200 yards away, with its help-yourself manure pile, “Ah lad tek it all, there’ll be plenty more tomorrow!” So, I did. By 1978 the humus had increased immensely, and with plenty of lime the land was now only slightly acidic. 45 years later, it’s still not right but it’s incredibly fertile.
That’s enough reminiscing – to the task in hand. Have you researched your site? Is it 90 years old, or older? Do you have old photos and newspaper cuttings from your site’s early days? I found copies of the initial meeting to set up the committee on my site from 1954, but
I am certain that there must be older sites out there with original materials. Some centenary sites have already featured in the magazine, such as the Odibourne Allotments in Kenilworth.
Among all of the good things that
are happening on allotments, there are some things that concern me, such as hearing of sites where the trustees do not actually know what that role involves, and the seriousness of the consequences to them and
the site if things go awry. Trustee indemnity insurance is a good thing
in all such cases. Some allotment committees do not have trustees, or they are not required by their particular management structure, but, if you have them, their role needs to be understood thoroughly.
Sadly, all the Garden Shows up to the end of June have been cancelled, including Gardeners’ World Live, Malvern and the Harrogate Spring Shows.
The NAS management committee are looking at creating a management training system to slot into the LANTRA system, which can be accessed by all sites, and used for their own training. The vast majority of sites are run
well, but that is often by experienced and (dare I say) older allotment holders. What happens when there is a change of personnel, and a
new but inexperienced committee takeover? Initial enthusiasm can turn to frustration, if things are not done correctly. The NAS continually seeks to do things by the book, following agreed constitutions and lease agreements.
In my opinion, it is when these are bypassed or ignored that the majority of problems occur. By creating a “Managing Your Allotment Site” set of guidelines, we hope to help you, and us, get it right!
Finally, as the water clears away and the sun comes out, we hope we will all have a wonderful birthday summer: we may as an association be 90 years old, but let’s show everyone there is life in the old dog yet!
In the words of the old song we must “accentuate the positive – and latch on to the affirmative” and look forward to another 90 years of allotment progress, through getting it right and working together to achieve a common goal. That has never been more important than in these challenging times dealing with the threat of the coronavirus. Hopefully by the time you are reading this we will be over the worst and your allotment has helped to keep you fit, well and well fed.
John Irwin, NAS Chair

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4 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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