Well, it certainly has been a busy summer. Everbody has been working hard on their plots and enjoying the produce that has now come despite the not so very sunny summer.
On the social front, we’ve had a barbecue on the 8th August where Court Lane Allotmenteers had the chance to speak and get to know each other better over drinks and food as opposed to over a fork or spade.
Ken, one of our plotholders has kindly done a photo montage of the event and as you can see much food was consumed.
Apart from eating food we also have taken part in the Birmingham Gardeners Weekend 2009. It was held at Kings Heath Park and we entered a stall of our veg to see whether any prizes could be won. We managed to get third so next year the plans are for second or better.
Below is a slideshow of our experiences at Gardeners Weekend and here is the link to slideshow.
Radio 4’s “You and Yours” programme had an interesting article on last Friday (5th June). It featured an allotmenteer in Cheltenham who had received warning letters from his local council threatening eviction for not having enough of the land set aside for growing fruit and veg on his plots. I think this is an interesting topic for debate. I had understood, from reading a bit about the history of allotments, that the reason they were started up was to provide people with opportunities not only to grow produce, but also to enjoy leisure gardening. In fact the association, to give it its full title, is The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners.
I, myself, have part of my plot dedicated to a wildlife pond. It is planted up with native species such as water mint, yellow flag, starwort and many others which oxygenate the water and keep it clear to encourage water-dwelling creatures. I have tadpoles, water boatmen, pond skaters and last summer I had visiting dragonflies. It is also a drinking resouce for the larger animals such as birds, hedgehogs and foxes, which are all predators to the slugs and grubs who might want to nibble our veg. To encourage beneficial insects, I have several flowers on my plot (most of them native wildflowers). I also currently have an expanse of grass on my plot, but the eventual intention is to dig over most of it for fruit and veg. The grass is mown weekly and is therefore “weed-control” rather than part of the overall design, until I can do more digging.
I would hate to think that those of us who like to balance our plots between growing fruit and veg and providing habitats for wildlife would be targetted in the same way as the man from Cheltenham. If the council wanted to make more allotments available, perhaps they could again open up the area of wasteland to the east of the site, which used to be allotments once upon a time.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has started a campaign where land can be shared so that people can grow their own fruit and vegetables. This has huge possibilities and it would be interesting to know how allotments like Court Lane could be part of this scheme.
The premise behind Landshare is best described by Monsieur Fearnley-Whittingstall himself in the video below.
It would be interesting to get opinions on this from allotmenteers and see how, if at all possible, it can be incorporated at the plots.
We’ve set up our own Flickr site as well as having a flickr group. The idea is that those who know about flickr can just add themselves to the group and those who love photography but are not too sure about the whole world wide web thing can still contribute by having their photos displayed at what I suppose will be a communal flickr site. The reason why flickr has been chosen is that when it comes to real sense of sharing and community then it really cannot be beaten.
All I need is a disk or memory stick with the photos and preferably descriptions of the visuals and if you would like your name to be attributed or just a plot number if you prefer. Grab me at the allotments if you have any photos.
If you have ideas on how to develop the flickr group then just add a comment on the blog.
Here is a photostream from the Court Lane Allotments’ flickr. Photos have been taken by different people who not only enjoy growing things but also appear to have photographic skills.
And here below is the Court Lane Allotments Group photostream.
One of our allotmenteers has been using photography as a visual record of the development of his plot. Luckily for us he has been uploading the progress to his Flickr page and he has kindly given permission for them to be used on this blog.
“These pics are meant more as a diary rather than for pictorial quality, so I hope those that view will either be inspired or at least enjoy my toil.”
A big thanks to Nick Booth who has been giving advice and support on how to develop this website. He has been heavily involved in a Birmingham based community project that allows people from the city to voice their interests, opinions & passions.
One of these involved a project in Handsworth where allotments have been used to engage young people in the area in a positive and educational manner.
You can read and hear all about Neville’s story here.