Christmas fair in pictures

A belated thank you to all those who attended our Christmas Fair on 4th December. It was a wonderful day filled with festive cheer. Below is a slideshow of the day’s events, which included Santa’s grotto, carol singers from Sutton Coldfield Community Choir and the usual supply of food and drink.

Thank you to the volunteers who baked and helped on the day. Without their help, our events would never happen.

You can view the photos directly here.

Community Garden Redux (with photos)

We have nearly completed the Community Garden redesign and so we thought we would give a pictorial history. The photos start from 2008 when we first cultivated a bit of space for community use and includes all the current work.

You can view the slideshow below or go straight to the flickr set here.

Autumn Fair – 2nd October 2011

Everyone is welcome to our free Autumn Fair on Sunday, 2nd October. There will be home made cakes, jams, pickles, local honey and other produce.

There will also be activities for children and stalls from community and charity groups as well as crafts stalls.

There will also be the opportunity to see our Community Garden.

Supporting John Taylor Hospice


Pride of Britain Local Hero Regional Award goes to…

Our very own Julie Trahearn, Chairperson of Court Lane Allotments Association. It was a wonderful surprise to all (especially to Julie) when she was nominated for Pride of Britain Awards for the Central region. So it was a joyous moment for Court Lane Allotments when she won it.

ITV Central news came to the allotments yesterday and announced Julie as the winner live on air. You can watch a video of the charming Kate Fisher giving the award to Julie on the ITV website.

Julie has written a little something about how she feels about receiving the award.

I am astounded that I have won the Pride of Britain Regional Award. I have only ever seen the work that I do as a way to promote Court Lane Allotments. I have never looked for or expected any recognition. I don’t do things on my own as I work with a team of people. So thank you to everyone who has helped and supported the allotments.

Julie has been invited to London next month where she will take part in the national Pride of Britain Awards 2011. Let’s wish her all the very best.

Thank you to all who attended yesterday and made a lot of noise to celebrate Julie’s achievement. There are photos below that you can view as a slideshow or you can view them here.

Court Lane goes to Gardeners’ World Live

We have been invited by the NSALG and BDAC to complete a show garden at this year’s Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC, Birmingham. The garden is part of the “Edible Patches” competition and was designed by one of our plot holders. Most of the plants were grown from seed, by a small number of our plot holders. Our garden represents what we are trying to do at Court Lane Allotments, complete with apple tree, beehive, pond and a variety of herbs and wild flowers to increase biodiversity, which is the ethos behind the Community Garden redevelopment. Our garden is entitled “A Tasty Little Space” and gives a snapshot of all the wonderful produce that can be grown in a small space.

We are delighted that the Edible Patches gardens have been awarded a RHS Silver Gilt medal. Members of the public are also encouraged to vote for whichever of the eight gardens is their favourite. Updated to add: We were thrilled that GWL visitors voted us their favourite of the 8 Edible Patches. We received a commemorative engraved glass dish as a prize. Thank you to everyone who voted.

Photos of the garden can be seen below and you can download design plan here.

Spring Fair 2011 – Update

A little write up about our recent Spring Fair. Thanks to Ken Simpson for the words and photos.

Our Spring Fair on May 22nd was a roaring success – not least because of the gale force winds tearing across the site.  Several of the gazebos had ambitions to become hang gliders.  However, this did not deter our loyal supporters from the local community, other allotment sites and our own plot holders from supporting us. In fact we had visitors from as far away as Berkshire.  (We think they happened to be visiting friends in the area – we don’t advertise that far afield).

This Fair must have broken a number of records in terms of attendance and the speed at which our offerings were consumed. We opened at 11.00 a.m. and by 12.30 p.m. the home produce (which, at the outset, ran the entire length of the marquee) was all but gone and people were still coming through the gates.  Our apologies to all of you who turned up to find that we had sold out.

Demand was such that the barbecue had to be hastily re-stocked. The ice cream was also soon exhausted and Court Lane Honey was devoured in an amazingly short time (Its uniquely natural taste even converted several people who professed not to like honey).

Our visiting organisations all thanked us for having a great day; John Taylor Hospice, Eco Sutton, The National Vegetable Society, The Greyhound Gap, Birmingham Community Arts and the Artists from The Cube in Erdington.

The archery range was very popular and the bouncy castle was never empty (although we had to restrain several over-excited adults). The demonstration of spinning attracted interest from all ages and the jazz pianist added a relaxing atmosphere to the marquee.

After a full day we counted the cost, balanced against the slight damage to a couple of gazebos we were more than gratified to find that we had raised a significant amount for Association funds and our partnership with John Taylor Hospice.

We would sincerely like to thank all of you for your efforts and support. We also value the many positive comments made in appreciation  of our open days. We welcome you to our future events which will be advertised on this website, locally and in the press.

You can view photos below or go direct to slideshow.

Monster Vegetables

Now that the sun is shining regularly, there is a lot of activity on the allotments.  People are busy digging and working their plots in preparation for new growth this year.

Sometimes, the vegetables we grow have a life of their own, as one of our plot holders found out.  Not sure where Terry got his carrot seeds from but we’ve been assured that it wasn’t from an alien world.

The Community Garden

As people may be aware, there is a corner of Court Lane Allotments where we have developed a Community Garden.  The purpose of it, is to encourage schools and other community groups to have free use of the area.  For example, there is a raised bed that is being used by Wilson Stuart School, which has been a great way to teach young people about growing vegetables.

We have some really exciting news about the development of this area.  Last year, Court Lane Allotments committee applied to the Big Lottery Fund. We were succesful and have received money to develop the Community Garden area.  There were a few hoops that we had to jump through, as the Big Lottery needs to make sure we can deliver on what we say we’re going to do.  We also had to make sure that the Birmingham City Council’s Allotment Liaison Officer was happy with the plans.  In short, we have received the green light for the project to go ahead. As previously, the aim is for all people to benefit from the Community Garden including schools, community groups, the public and of course, our own plot holders.

There was an open invitation to plot holders to discuss the Community Garden, and a meeting was held on 28th January of this year.  It was a good turnout and the plotholders were very encouraging and supportive of the project.  Any questions about the project were answered and the fact that the council has given the go ahead has hopefully answered any queries.  Of course, we will continue to communicate with plot holders on the progress of the project and inform all the other people who have supported us (we’re talking about you, dear reader).

The plans for the Community Garden are as follows:

  1. Developing the existing space involving schools, community groups and plot holders – This will mean improving access for those who need extra mobility support, like wheelchair users and those with pushchairs.  Inviting community groups and schools to have a little plot for free that they can use.  Apart from the school and community group beds, any produce that grows on the Community Garden will be shared, for free, amongst plot holders and other users of the garden.
  2. Encourage beneficial wildlife like bees, butterflies and other insects – We will grow plants and flowers that will actively encourage pollinating insects that will benefit all plots on the allotments site.  We currently have a bee hive enclosure in the garden area and we wish to encourage their well-being by having these plants.
  3. A herb and natural remedy area – We aim to grow herbs that can be used for cooking and other plants for cosmetic and remedial purposes.  The idea is to have experts offer free courses to plot holders and members of the public who may be interested.  There will be other free courses available and we welcome any suggestions.

The  changes are only to the existing Community Garden space with the aim to improve the area so that it will be beneficial for all, and easier to maintain.

One of our plot holders has offered her garden design skills and has created a visual plan for us.    In addition, other plot holders, who have landscaping expertise, have offered their services. This is showing that people value the project and want to help in developing a green space that really is “community” based.

Below is a photo of the design.  You can view larger versions here.  We welcome any comments and if you are a community group who are interested in using the garden, please feel free to contact us.