What a difference a year can make! I'm writing this in late February, but so far, we've had a more severe winter (following an exceptionally cool, wet summer) than for many years: not so bad in Glasgow as in some other parts of the country, but still very cold at times. I've seen reports that many gardeners have suffered losses of less hardy plants over the winter and also that the wet summer led to more than usual crop failures at seed suppliers. I hope all of you have bought your seeds in time.
Another factor may be the credit crunch - Newspaper reports suggest that many people are planning to grow more of their own food this year, and this may also have an impact on seed supplies.
The credit crunch may affect allotments in another way. Media reports indicate that many of the grandiose building programmes that have been turning our cities into concrete jungles and making land much too precious to be made available for allotments, have been financed by massive borrowing and are now grinding to a halt. And that this will not simply be a temporary 'blip'. There is huge un-met demand for allotments in our towns and cities: let's hope our politicians begin to release land previously retained for development and allow new allotments to be established.
This, as allotment-holders know, will be a good move for the health of Glaswegians. Research by Richard Mitchell (University of Glasgow) has shown that access to green spaces in cities is beneficial to health, and I suspect that the long hours spent in cultivating a plot make even more of a difference than simply taking a stroll.
With these thoughts on the ways that allotments fit into the bigger picture, may I wish you all success in your cultivation efforts this coming year.
The first plot inspection of the year will be on Sunday 26th April Here are some extracts from the Association rules which guide the committee:
1. Plot and Allotments maintenance
Please check your plot against these criteria and ask: how well does it meet them? What do you need to do before the inspection?
Paths will receive particular attention this year. The terms of the insurance policy which covers the Association and its members against damages and costs arising from accidental injury to any person engaged in leisure gardening state: It is a condition precedent to liability that the Insured Association and/or its members ensure that all pathways/footpaths are maintained to a reasonable standard and free from debris.
The implication seems clear: if someone were to trip over a stone, tool, or anything else on a communal path (a main path, or the paths dividing plots), and claimed damages for injury, the plot-holder responsible for that path would not be protected by the KAA insurance policy.
It is in your interest to ensure that 'your' paths are firmly constructed, maintained, and kept clear. The guidelines are in paragraph 1b of the KAA document 'Information on Facilities (2007)':
Plot-holders are responsible for their paths between plots, and half of that portion of the main path which adjoins their plot. For paths between plots, the responsibility of a plot holder 1) at Kirklee is for the path nearest the south side 2) at Julian Avenue, for the path nearest Julian Avenue.
At Kirklee, 'south side' means the path between plots that is closest to the tool hut. If you are in any doubt, let me know and I or another committee member will advise.
As our annual contribution to the West End Festival, both sites will be open to the public. This is an excellent opportunity for members of the community to visit us, and see the benefits of these open spaces. We also raise valuable funds for the Association from sales of refreshments and plants - so...... please ensure that we have well-stocked plant stalls by preparing a few cuttings or pots of seeds, perhaps of slightly unusual things, that will be in good shape by June.
Herbs sell especially well - so please see what you can do.
The tool hut at Kirklee needs a major clear out and rearrangement, to make better use of this valuable space. The committee hopes to create some internal structure which would allow members to keep tools separate (rather than the present pile) and reinstate the practice of storing KAA wheelbarrows there, to prolong their life. We first need to identify and dispose of all abandoned tools. The committee therefore asks that if you keep tools in the hut, please, by Saturday 25th April 2009, tie them securely together, and label them with your name. Thereafter, all tools and other material without a label will be removed and disposed of.
Once that is done, and we have some space, we will begin to improve the layout. We are naturally keen to take account of the ideas of current users: please send these to me as soon as you wish.
Remember the hut is only for tools. Any other stuff - polytunnels, buckets, bags of compost etc. will be removed and disposed of very soon.
There was a constructive debate on fruit trees at the AGM, centred on the two alternative resolutions put forward by members (see attached minutes for details). The immediate outcome was that the committee is working to bring a further resolution to the 2009 AGM, taking account of the points raised by members. Please also remember the point made by a member who (to quote from the minutes):
"reminded the meeting that while the matter was under discussion, the present rule should be used to help manage the situation (2b 'Cultivation of trees is not permitted without the consent of the Committee'), together with commonsense and consideration for others."
Please follow this if you are considering planting fruit trees.
KAA's free supply of manure from Glasgow University Veterinary School, Garscube Estate is not as predictable as in former years.
As an alternative, Scottish Water can supply compost, and a trial load was delivered to Julian Allotments at a cost of £120 for 20 tonnes. The compost was well received and that delivery has almost gone. Because of the cost of delivery, it will be necessary to recoup some of this through an increased charge per barrow load of 50p - a snip of a price in comparison with the cost of bags of compost from garden centres. The next delivery will be to the Kirklee site, probably within the next few weeks. Please keep a tally of your barrow loads and pay for them at the AGM.
A reminder that a petrol driven strimmer is available for use by any member. I look after it on behalf of the Association, which includes explaining the essential safety features. If you wish to use it please contact me on 0141 946 1093 (or on plot 110 at Kirklee). There is a charge of £2.50 to cover the costs of petrol, strimmer wire and maintenance.
Six new members have recently taken on plots - Gordon Bonar (78a), Caroline Mackenzie (78b), Cathy Craig (88b), Carol Evans (97a), Phil Nicholson (97b) and Catherine Steel (107). The committee welcomes you to Kelvinside Allotments Association, and wishes you many years of enjoyable gardening.
The Annual Conference will be held on Saturday 20th June 2009 10.30am to 4pm in the Victoria Halls, Dunblane (opposite station) The morning session begins with a presentation by Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for the Environment, and continues with talks by leading supporters of the allotment movement. The afternoon session (chaired by Sarah Boyack, MSP) includes presentations by several allotments associations from across Scotland, and workshops on topical issues such as acquiring land; organic planting; and worm composting.
All members are invited to attend, and further details will be put on the notice boards.
They are being supported by the local councillor Kieran Wild and I'm sure would welcome further support. This may appeal particularly to those on our waiting list. The organisers are keen that this remains a local community facility - to satisfying the explosion of interest in people growing local food.
For further information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org John Hancox