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Progress on the polytunnel 18th November 2019

Many thanks to a band of helpers who were able to line the sides of the polytunnel with wood chippings. The group included Liz, Pam, Stephen, Dave, Rebecca, Christine and James. 

We have another much larger pile of wood chippings; these are going to cover the picnic area at the top of the hill.

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Wood chippings now surround the polytunnel

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A group of wise heads considering the next steps with the polytunnel

 

 

A Growing Concern

As part of their 100th anniversary celebrations The Oxford and District Federation of Allotment Associations have published a book entitled “A Growing Concern. It is available from the Museum shop in the Town Hall, priced £6.00

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Its authors Phil Baker and Wendy Skinner Smith draw on contributions from the constituent associations; our own Stephen Pegg wrote in the book this piece about Barracks Lane.

BARRACKS LANE ALLOTMENTS

Both fields of BLA have been sites of activity since ancient times, with a Roman pottery kiln on the boundary to the east and a late medieval quarry a stone’s throw to the south. The heavy clay, sandier in some areas, has been cultivated or used as a hayfield for centuries; two undated aerial photos show allotment plots extending north up on to what is now the Golf Club and south on to The Spires playing fields, probably because of wartime requirements. Links Allotments (as we were originally called) came into being during World War II then split from Bartlemas Close in 2012, later to create its own constitution and new name.

It is a pleasant very open site of about 4.5 acres and, with college woods, school playing fields and a golf course on three sides, has a rural feel, especially with regard to voracious muntjac, vandalous badgers and the strange scream of vixens late dusk. From a perusal of the records, it is clear that demographics have changed greatly : we now have more single persons, women, young married couples and plots shared by Associate Members. Some changes reflect a general reorientation of allotments to their community – we regularly welcome young children from a local school into a thinly–wooded area set aside for them. Cultivation techniques range from fluttering miles of Mypex to altitudinous raised beds (a 1:15 slope means bottom plots can get very wet after storms).

Following some years of inertia, we are now enjoying a very active period; there is a waiting list and our five or so working parties a year get ‘stuck in’. Projects for this year include a recreational seating area and…The Polytunnel. Standards are high –  though not as demanding as in the 50’s and 60’s when meeting minutes mention posses of committee members visiting prospective allottees at home to inspect the state of their gardens! Notes from other meetings include : (1945) Chairman’s pears have been pilfered (1970) Mr and Mrs F. (who now have the neatest plot on site) sent a stern letter (1985) Mr H. has been found sleeping in his shed again (1990) Committee is not sure whether M. is allowed her geese.

Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ Fields are rich in memories, most of which are passed on between moans about the weather and a cup of tea. The Shed, for example, a big breeze-block affair of the 60’s which stored everything and up to 20 years ago featured the shop selling potatoes, onion sets and bagged-up chemicals (thankfully replaced by organics, bar the odd sprinkle of Growmore) now replaced by The Container, painted a nice shade of woodland green. Some plotholders live on in the folklore: Mary S., who famously found uses for vast quantities of black knicker-elastic (still being dug up) in all her allotment activities; Margaret C., whose love of animals drove her to distraction when a member chased a pheasant intending to impale it with his fork. M.’s sympathies were with the bird. She pursued the Greek gentleman all round the field threatening him with hers. A policeman had to be summoned to convince M. of the ill-advised nature of homicide.

Remembering and celebrating a tradition of cultivation in this place, we look forward to continuing our stewardship.

 

 

Fencing update

Workers will be on the allotments from approximately 8.30am tomorrow (Monday 20 Feb) to begin the fencing work that the committee reported to you a couple of weeks ago. We will be having 2m high green chainlink fencing put up on part of Field B (ie at the top of the allotments). The extent of the work is outlined in the PDF attached. The fencing will improve security on the school side and hopefully will prevent some of the incursions and thefts being reported by plotholders up there. The work will be undertaken by Warefence, a City Council contractor (www.warefence.co.uk). If there are any issues, please contact their contracts manager, Rory Morrison, 07725 670905 and me 07986 365712 but we expect minimal or no disruption, with the possible exception of plots B8-10 where some of the fencing will be put up. Given the weather is currently good, the contractors will be given vehicular access for the duration of the work and so there is likely to be a work van or light truck up the top at some points during the next few days.

 

Several of you have asked about access to the Forest School area and the Committee wants to reassure all of you that there will be a gate in the fence to allow access for plotholders (and of course Forest School itself). At the moment it will remain unlocked. The intention is to have a lock fitted that will open with the same key that will operate the main gates. Please make sure you shut the gate should you wish to go up there.

 

The committee is very grateful to the City Council for finding much of the funding for the fencing. In addition, Oxford Spires Academy has kindly provided £1000, which the Association has matched from its funds. The committee’s longer term intention is to have the fencing extended along B Field to secure the whole fenceline with the Golf Course; this plan will happen as finances permit over the next few years.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please do get in touch.

Working parties

Welcome to the 2017 allotment year! The committee hopes you are all itching to get back to your plots and make this a great growing year.

One of the best things about being an allotment member is feeling you are part of a shared community. For the Association to work properly, we must all help to keep our community tidy and well-maintained, but working parties are also there to help each other, especially those with problem plots or in need of an extra hand. This is why your membership of the Association includes the expectation that you attend to at least one community working party per year.

Please help. The working party dates for 2017 are below. The Committee has listened to comments from members who aren’t able to make weekends, and has therefore agreed to trial two mid-week working parties, subject to sufficient demand, in May and June as the nights get longer. We will review how many sign up for these to determine whether or not they are viable.

Sign up for any of the dates at Doodle here: http://doodle.com/poll/y8i736zhngh34bur

Sunday 5 March Saturday 8 April Sunday  7 May Wednesday 17 May

(subject to demand)

Saturday 3 June Wednesday 14 June

(subject to demand)

Sunday 9 July Sunday  3 Sept
11:00 – 13:00 14:00 – 16:00 11.00-13.00 18.30-.20.30 14.00-16.00 18.30-20.30 11.00-13.00 11:00 – 13:00

 

Last year, we finally managed to clear several troublesome plots for new members to use, to demolish the old shed and replace it with a shiny (well green) container, and fill several very large skips with rubbish. This year, we have more plots to clear, a community garden to build, and a project to ready a plot to construct a communal polytunnel.

If you have other jobs you think the working parties should address, please email the committee or talk to one of us and we will see what we can do.

Working party meet-ups: We will always meet in the Orchard and children’s play area at the starting time where you can sign in so that the Committee can monitor attendance. Please make sure you are suitably dressed with appropriate footware, and that you bring gloves with you. Basic tools such as secateurs, spades, loppers etc would be helpful (the Association does not have these). If you have strimmers or other powertools, these are used at your own risk and you must confirm with the Committee beforehand that you have read the manufacturer’s instruction manual and understand how to operate the machinery safely. IF you use power tools at a working party, you must wear all the protective clothing stipulated in the manufacture’s instruction manual. A basic risk assessment will be carried out in advance of each working party and will be available on request. There will always be at least one member of the Committee present who will have a mobile phone in case of any issues (name and number will be notified before each working party). If you are First Aid trained and will be at a working party, please let us know in advance. A First Aid box is kept in the Committee hut.