AGM 2019

After a prolonged delay, as we searched in vain for a mutually convenient date, we finally managed to hold the Community Allotment AGM on 11 May and thus restore ourselves to constitutionality. On the upside, it was nice to be able to sit in the scout hut with the door open letting in fresh air rather than in a scarf and woolly hat.

Once the kettle had been boiled and tea procured we moved on to business. The minutes were quickly approved (who can remember what we agreed to do a year ago?!) so we headed swiftly to finance where it was revealed that, based on the Micawber principle (see last year’s AGM) the consequence of the last year is misery. The bank balance is lower than at the same point last year, mainly thanks to the glorious summer which reduced crops of key jam-making fruits such as Loganberries to a pitiful, shriveled remnant of their former selves. In addition there were outgoings such as buying a new incinerator (without which Barney would never have been able to set fire to the shed, so money well spent there). In any event, we’re still solvent.

The next item on the agenda was the chair’s report. This involves a summary of the weather last year, and of what grew well and badly, a passing note on the great shed conflagration and mention that there was still a lot of work to do on the fedge as well in lowering some of the raised beds which are rather full. On the upside, it was also noted that socially in 2018 we managed one tea party, four barbecues, mulled wine and mince pies in the polytunnel and a Christmas meal. We also had a couple of schools visits which went well (i.e. kids enjoyed themselves, no one got stung by a bee or put a fork through their foot).

Discussion following the report noted that there had been quite a few new volunteers over the last 12 months, which is great news. Unfortunately for me, some of this volunteering was attributed to the blog, which means I’m going to have to keep writing it (Sam, who took the minutes, has summed up this discussion as follows: “Steven’s blog is ok, I suppose”).

The two main issues that came up for discussion in the remainder of the meeting were the ongoing saga of the deer, who continue to graze their way through a range of our crops, and the reconstruction of the shed, which currently has the bottom half of one of the corner posts missing and appears to be being held up by either will power or a spell of levitation.

With regard to the former, given that a fence for the whole allotment and shooting appear to be out of the equation, we have agreed to try and find ways of building barriers around the most vulnerable plants, whether by netting or fencing. A book was helpfully brought along showing how one can make fences and gates out of coppiced hazel and the like. It’s going to be like one of those TV programmes where they get people to recreate the experience of living and working in the 18th century, just so you can thank your stars you live in the twenty-first century.

The shed is a rather more challenging proposition, given that there isn’t enough money to buy what is required to build it. Task number one is to source the flags for the base. We have about half of what we require and we agreed a set of plans to acquire the others, mainly of the beg, borrow or steal variety, though we are hoping that the begging will be all that’s required. It was also noted that while we have an assorted collection of timber we will need some more. June is the allotted time period for shed building, so I guess we had better crack on.

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We’re going to need a bigger tea pot….

Is this a record? By the time we sat down for tea this afternoon there were eight of us at the allotment. It wasn’t a tea party, or a barbecue. or a Christmas special, or any of the other occasions which bring out the crowds, just a normal Saturday afternoon work session. I have been going to the allotment since 2006(ish) and I can’t remember a normal Saturday when that many people turned up. Allotment elders who were quizzed were similarly stumped and so it appears it may indeed be a record (no doubt someone will be along in the comments section later to say they remember a blazing hot Saturday in 2005 when there were thirteen people there, and a dog, so just to preempt that, I’ll say it now – show me the evidence or take a walk).

Although there were eight of us at the plot today, none of us was naked. Not that surprising, you are probably thinking, but today was World Naked Gardening Day (yes, it is a thing, see here: I must admit I wasn’t aware of the fact until Kirsty sent us all an email containing a picture of herself doing some naked gardening by way of celebration (which came as a bit of a surprise, as you can imagine). At least I assume it was her. The person in the picture was facing away from the camera and wearing a hat but still, she looked vaguely familiar. Perhaps Kirsty will be along later to clear this one up for us.

Returning to the issue of the record turnout. The only potential downside of this is that we may, as the title indicates, need a bigger tea pot (and extra biscuits). Eight cups of tea doesn’t leave more than a cup to spare in the current pot and while Sam was quick to snaffle it today, Barney won’t make the same mistake twice. Without a bigger pot we risk a dangerous spiral of tea-racing, as people rush to drain their cups in order to secure the last drops in the pot. Given the attendant risks of scalding, spillage and, possibly, hiccups, a bigger tea pot would seem to be a necessity from a health and safety point of view. Still, it’s a small price to pay for the benefit the extra hands bring. Next week, the AGM!


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Tea Party 2: Elvis is Alive!

Now that I have your attention…

Not that Elvis though. The other Elvis, the one who used to come to the allotment but who hasn’t been for quite some time now, having had to choose between us and a German conversation group and inexplicably opting for the latter. Nevertheless, it was good to see him, and he added a little bit of intrigue to proceedings when, upon being asked how the German was going, he replied that he hadn’t really been doing that for a bit but had been busy with other ‘stuff’, about which he then failed to elaborate. Top secret, or just lying on the sofa eating cake? Who knows?

Matt and Jo also came along and brought a vegan lemon cake. Not, it transpired, because they were vegans, but because they hadn’t had any eggs in the fridge. Necessity etc, and it turned out pretty well. More shocking to Matt than cake without eggs, however, was the concept of Eccles cakes and potted Stilton, as proffered by Andrew and Kirsty. Further quizzing revealed that the whole idea of cheese and fruit cake/mince pies etc struck him as deeply bizarre. Coming from Yorkshire the idea of Christmas cake or mince pies and Wensleydale seems quite normal to me, but a later conversation indicated that Yorkshire was also alien to Matt, which might explain things. Although I only partially overheard, and may have slightly misconstrued, the gist of it was something along the lines of’.’..Ilkley? Where’s that….Yorkshire? Where’s Yorkshire?’ I’m sure he must be fitting in very well in Lancashire.

There was an extensive array of bakery goods provided by the various participants. In addition to the vegan lemon cake and Eccles cakes there was a Cassatta (sp?) cake from Linda, a Ginger cake from Sam, home made bread from Bernie and ginger and chocolate biscuits provided by Jo and Linda respectively. Kirsty also brought some cucumber sandwiches (white bread, slightly rolled, crusts cut off, natch).

Toward the end of proceedings the conversation turned to elbows. This shift was brought on by consideration of future activities and the possibility, in particular, of a trip to Bernie’s dad”s farm for a bit of archery courtesy of the outdoor activity centre there. This possibility stimulated memories of a previous visit and the question of which of the female members of the party had achieved the biggest, purplest bruise on their arm on that occasion. Hence to elbows, and the observation that men’s and women’s are different shapes. A certain amount of empirical study then seemed to confirm this but it was only on returning home and conducting further research that the full facts were revealed. Turns out it’s something called the carrying angle and is a product of the fact that, on average, women have narrower shoulders and wider hips than men. Thus, in order to stop their hands hitting their sides whenever they walk their arms, when held by their sides, bend away from the body at the elbow more than mens’ do. Good for walking, problematic for archery. Who knew?


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