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


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 Christmas Food & Crafts Fair Update

Thank you to all who attended last week’s Christmas Food & Crafts Fair.  It was a great day and there were huge smiles all around.

We had stalls from local artists this year from The Cube in Erdington, and it was a wonderful sight to see such talented people show their work.  The artists were Cath Lawlor, Angie Chapman, Mandy Thorne, Jeanette Hill, Susan Hassell, Heather Rowland, Al Franklin, Paul Maiden and Stewart Moult.

We also had a stall from the League of Friends of John Taylor Hospice.  We donated £50 to them and their stall made £207 on the day.  There was also a donation from a local fruit and veg owner of £20.

A special thank you to those who volunteered, along with the allotment committee members, their time and help.

Below are some photographs from the day and here is the direct link to them.

Christmas Food & Craft Fair – 5th December

Everybody is welcome to our Christmas Food and Craft Fair.  There will be food for sale and a free mince pie with mulled wine.

There will also be local artists selling arts and crafts items so it will be a chance to get some Christmas shopping in.

Representatives from John Taylor Hospice, Erdington will be taking donations on the day.

You can find out where we are here.

Please note: Event will be under marquee, and therefore safe from snow!

Apple Day – Sunday, 24th October 2010

Court Lane Allotments will play host to an Apple Day that has been organised by the “Prepare” project.  Court Lane Allotments were given a free stall at last year’s Apple day, so we are returning the favour by offering the space to hold the event.  It will also be an opportunity for the allotments to sell hot drinks and produce left over from the Autumn Fair.

Below is the flyer and press release for the event.

Apple Day will celebrate this year’s urban fruit harvest from the ‘Prepare’ project run by Artist in Residence Eleanor Hoad and her volunteers. Eleanor has set up the scheme to make use of fruit growing in the city that would otherwise go to waste. Traveling by bike, spotting fruit trees overhanging walls and fences Eleanor has harvested hundreds of apples, pears and damsons from the Erdington area.

Drawing on centuries of tradition surrounding the humble apple, ‘Apple Day’ will include live apple pressing, an opportunity to see and taste local apples turned into delicious juice with Eleanor’s homemade apple press, made almost entirely from reclaimed materials. Visitors can even bring along their own apples to be turned into fresh juice.

Apple expert Julian Brandram will be on hand with a display of over 25 varieties of apple to see and taste and to give growing advice and sell fruit trees.

The 1st Sedgley Morris Dancers will be performing as will local musicians and there will be lots for children of all ages to get involved with including apple bobbing, the longest apple peel competition and an apple and spoon race. Visitors will also have the chance to have a go at making a mini scarecrow to take away. Apple trees, produce, pickles, food and plants will also be for sale.

Eleanor Hoad, Artist in Residence said…

“Fruit trees have been really bountiful this year after a cold winter and good sunshine at blossom time. We have found so many apples in Erdington and they make really good juice! It’s easy to loose our connection with nature living in urban areas, but this event allows us to reconnect with the harvest of the city and enjoy Birmingham’s forgotten abundance”

Edible Erdington’s Harvest Festival

Apologies for the short notice for this event.

Eleanor Hoad, (Erdington’s Artist in Residence), is holding a Harvest Festival event in Erdington on Saturday 16th October 11am – 3pm.

Several of our plot holders have been working alongside Eleanor at the Edible Erdington Project and as a consequence our allotments have built a good relationship with Eleanor and the Erdington Town Centre Partnership.

If you would like to attend the event, it is being held outside the Cooperative on Erdington High Street.

Tales of bees and honey

On Saturday 21st August, I was amongst the plot holders and visitors to Court Lane Allotments who were treated to a fascinating talk on bees by Julian Routh of Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham Beekeepers’ Association.

Julian is a Master Beekeeper and has kept bees for over 30 years. He also gives lectures on beekeeping as well as judging Honey Shows and was recently co-opted to the Education and Husbandry Committee of the British Beekeepers’ Association.

He gave a brief desription of other pollinating insects such as bumble bees, solitary bees and wasps, before going on the describe the lifecycle of the honey bee, the yearly cycle of what goes on inside a honey bee colony and then how beekeepers interact with them to manage a colony of bees throughout the year. He then invited everyone to have a closer look at the observation hive and described to us what was going on. As a newly qualified beekeeper, it was useful to have an update in a nutshell and I hope it was of interest to those who wanted to know more about these fascinating insects.

Not many people know that when honey bees swarm they are actually at their most docile. Beekeepers have been known to put their bare hand into a swarm of bees without harm (though it not advised for an untrained person to attempt to do the same). Julian told us of his daughter who, as a small child, would fearlessly help him with beekeeping tasks, wearing only a summer dress and a beekeeping veil.

He also went on to describe the wonderfully named “waggle dance” whereby a bee returning from foraging will inform other bees of a nectar source by dancing in a figure of eight pattern. Research has been done to establish that the angle of the waggle run on the face of the honey comb has been shown to equate to the angle of the food source in relation to the sun. The speed and length of the waggle run determines how far away the food source is. This is something I’ve been reading up about recently, having seen bees doing it in my own garden hive.

He explained how honey bees concentrate nectar into honey by evaporating water out of it. The evaporation also helps to regulate hive temperature and humidity. The bees achieve this by fanning their wings to extract moisture from the air in a way not dissimilar to an air conditioner. I have just completed my first honey harvest from my hive at home and any honey the bees now collect, up until the end of the season, will be for them to use as their winter stores.

Before the talk, Julian had a tour of our Court Lane Allotments apiary enclosure and was very complimentary. He said it had obviously been developed with the utmost concern for the safety of both bees and plot holders and we have “an ideal set up”, which is a credit to Court Lane Allotments and our qualified beekeepers. For those of you who haven’t yet taken the opportunity to have a closer look, each hive faces a slightly different direction so that the bees won’t get confused as to which hive is theirs and there is plenty of space to work around each hive. The tree belt behind the apiary provides shelter from easterly winds. I asked Julian about the number of colonies we have at present, as I had recently been informed that a plot holder was concerned about the welfare of the bees. He commented that we have space in our apiary for up to 8 hives if we want, but Ming and I told him we were quite happy with the 4 colonies we have at the moment, which should produce some lovely honey for Court Lane Allotments next year.

Julian is very happy to discuss any further questions that anyone  may have about our Court Lane Allotment bees and beekeeping in general. Anybody wishing to ask questions can contact Ming (plot 14) or myself (plot 45) or comment on this site, and we will be very happy to discuss bees. In fact, we have already been approached by one of the Court Lane plot holders who is interested in learning more about beekeeping.

Many thanks to Julian for volunteering to share with us, free of charge, his time and expertise.  Those attending the talk were well provided for with free refreshments and lovely cakes baked and donated by volunteers. Any donations received went to the charity Bees Abroad which the Beekeeping Association supports.

Below is an edited video of Julian’s talk and here is the direct link to the YouTube video. Apologies for the poor sound quality.