3rd March 2018: The Community Allotment AGM

We have been informed, by the three people who have visited it, that our website is very attractive. We have also been informed that the lack of activity on it makes it unclear whether it does, in fact, relate to a currently existing organization or is merely a remnant of a previous civilization, the last remaining member of which died out several decades ago.

In an attempt to rectify this situation, and in the hope of persuading passing visitors that we do indeed still exist, and would welcome more volunteers, it was decided at the Community Allotment AGM that some sort of regular blog should be instigated, and yours truly drew the short straw.

The purpose of the blog will be to keep people up to date with activity at the allotment and to try and persuade those who might be interested in coming down but aren’t sure about it that we are, in fact, a nice, (relatively) normal bunch of people and that it’s good fun. If it also leads to me developing an audience of several million followers and becoming a major ‘influencer’  whose endorsement is eagerly sought by major gardening companies, I can live with that.

So, this week there was no activity at the allotment, because it’s covered in snow and it’s about minus fifteen centigrade out there. Happily, and with unusually good timing, it was also the week for which the Community Allotment AGM was scheduled. So instead of gathering at a freezing allotment we gathered at the slightly less freezing scout hut (I still kept my hat on though) to review the previous year’s activity, plan the next year’s and go through all the necessary constitutional business.

Once the kettle had been boiled and tea made (there will be a lot about tea in this blog if I manage to keep it going), the meeting commenced. The first order of business, as ever, was the minutes of last year’s meeting and matters arising there from. It was noted that as of March 2017, the proposed building of a pizza oven (we have a barbecue already, but variety is the spice of life) was ‘ongoing’. As of March 2018 it is still ‘ongoing’ and one has the feeling that it may still be ongoing in March 2019.

The next item of business was the Chair’s report. Normally, this is accompanied by a slide show which documents the previous year’s activity and typically involves about half a dozen pictures of Sam in various poses, none of which actually involve doing any work (leaning on her spade, chatting to Linda, having a cup of tea and so on). For some of us this has become our equivalent of ‘where’s Wally’ and its absence was sadly missed. Hopefully it can be re-instigated next year.

In his report Barney gave an overview of the previous year, starting with the weather. Winter, cloudy, wet. Spring, cloudy. Summer, cloudy, wet. Autumn, cloudy, windy. Overall…well, you get the picture. Nevertheless, there were some successful crops: Parsley – there’s always Parsley, the polytunnel is full of Parsley, Linda has a bit of a thing about Parsley. This also is an issue to which we are likely to return. The physalis/Cape Gooseberries also did well as did much of the soft fruit. Redcurrants were abundant thanks to judicious netting and the blackcurrants produced a bigger crop after a couple of years of more vigorous pruning. Summer raspberries were also good. The apples were prolific but the autumn winds meant that there were more windfalls than anything else. Perhaps we should invest in an allotment cider press. Runner beans, chard, courgettes,  winter brassicas, parsnips, leeks, onions (the onions were huge) and tomatoes were moderately successful, though the tomatoes did get blight in the end, despite being grown in the polytunnel. Crops that performed poorly included potatoes (blight), winter cabbage (still about six inches tall now), sprouts and cherries. The cherries are never any good. Chopping down the trees and replacing them  was another item in last year’s minutes that is still ‘ongoing’. Let’s try and see if we can remove it from next year’s agenda.

While the year was somewhat mixed on the growing side, however, it was generally agreed that the social side had been a success. We began with a ‘Tea Party’ In April (I told you there would be a lot about tea), which was held in the polytunnel due the unseasonally inclement weather.  There were barbecues in May, July and August (could have had a ‘Pizza Party’ as well but…). There was a picnic in June which we combined with Winberry (or possibly wimberry, whinberry, windberry, bilberry, fraughan, hurtleberry, whortleberry or blaeberry) picking and the year was rounded off with mince pies and mulled wine in the polytunnel and the Christmas meal which this year was held at Il Toro.

The chair’s report was followed by the treasurer’s report. The main items of note here were firstly that we had more money at the end of the year than we had at the start and are thus a success based on the application of the ‘Micawber principle’.[i] The main reasons for this are that we a/ didn’t spend very much and b/ received over £500 in donations. Those ‘donations’, however, were all ‘donated’ in return for jars of jam and honey (we have two beehives). The primary conclusion to be drawn from the accounts, therefore, is the centrality to our ongoing financial viability of jam.

The next item on the agenda was ‘general discussion’. Not a particularly wise item to include, I would have thought, unless you really have nothing better to do that eke out the rest of your existence at the allotment AGM, though it does at least ensure that the threat posed by ‘Any Other Business’ is largely neutralized. In any event, the discussion here largely focused on the fact that it was the same group of eight or nine of us who turned up at the allotment and the AGM and that it would be nice to try and encourage a few more people to join us. Various means to achieve this end were discussed and, well, here we are.

Finally, the important constitutional matter of elections to the Community Allotment Committee was addressed and, after a thirty second long discussion the existing committee was re-elected nem con. Kim-Jong Un would be proud of us.

Formal business concluded, we turned to the important matter of more tea, and cake (there will also be quite a lot about cake in this blog). To be precise, to Clementine drizzle cake, Cape Gooseberry frangipane tart, Orange and polenta cake, chewy chocolate chip cookies and…hummus. Linda said something about worrying that someone might want something savoury.

No one ate any hummus.

I’m going to my Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary next week, so I won’t be commenting on that, but hopefully I’ll be down on the allotment in two week’s time and have something to report, including that the snow has gone.

[i] According the Charles Dickens character Wilkins Micawber, ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.’ See Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850).

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