Express and Star: The Great-War-Legacy Garden Project.

 

Our local daily newspaper the Express and Star is offering funding for community projects.

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Following a couple of committee meetings we decided to apply, hoping to be selected. The project we put forward reflects this time in history, allotment traditions and expands our community.

Mick Powell, current chairman has been to initial meetings about ways to commemorate the First World War in a local sense. These have been hosted, I believe by the parish council and have included, variously, The Boy’s Brigade, Scouts, Royal British Legion and Cheslyn hay Local History Society.

Our application, discussed at length, was – in a nutshell – to recreate something like a World war One allotment/ and or back garden.

I have since heard that our group, meeting the criteria has been selected.

So please, if you have the Express and Star save the Cash for your Community vouchers that will be printed over the next month and let us have them. Every one will help (the number that we collect will be important in deciding how much funding we get.

We will also need to know more about allotments of the time: what crops were grown and what techniques used.

If you have that information, expertise or any other information we would love to hear from you, so that over a four year period we can build a real living-history site to be proud of.

The Allotments at Chateau Impney ?

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Way back when, several members of the committee went over to Springvale to accept a grant of £1800 granted by the Midlands Counties Co-op after a successful application for money to help with building a toilet n site. (This is reported on here https://challotments.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/part-of-a-caring-community-co-op-presentation/)

As a result of this we were invited to the Co-op A.G.M . at the Chateau Impney, Droitwich Spa.

We took a display board, showing the plans for the raised beds/community area along with collected comments from plot holders and visitors, tools and produce. The stall also promoted allotments and was popular with the large number of Co-op members and other stallholders attending the meeting.

Among others we met representatives from Wolverhampton Rhinos Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby teams, Quartz Brewing ( Kings Bromley), Just Crisps (from Hill Ridware), Revolver World Fairtrade Coffee, Cheltenham Town F.C. Community Trust and we bought cakes, beer, cereals and cider from some of the suppliers there after extensive tasting (rhubarb and apple juice and Honeycomb ice cream from Ledbury: delicious).

The stalls were set up in a marquee behind the impressive hotel and we were provided with a cold buffet lunch and we were all made very welcome.

Our thanks to the organisers for the invitation and the hospitality on the day.

Work Party: Tuesday 11th March

The latest word is that we have been given the official planning permission to build the toilets (and associated building).

So, to get started we are having a work party next Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m.

 There is an existing shed to be emptied, dismantled and re-erected at the other end off site.

Any one wishing to help – and everyone is welcome -please meet at the bottom (Wolverhampton Road) gate by the community area.

Also (do we need to post this? Really?): tea person needed. it’s an allotment: we need tea !

 

All Going On …

…this weekend up on the plots.

Saturday strong winds and slashing squalls, some loaded with stinging sleet. But in the background beneath grey sheets of cloud the autumn sown field is tinged with green as a cereal crop emerges.

But the stalwart committee were there, helping allotmenteers fill in forms and explaining rules. This is fee-paying time.

The as-promised bacon sandwiches, with trimmings like “red sauce” and pepper and porridge as an alternative. As a legitimate bribe/incentive to pay.

Get as much of the paperwork done as soon as possible we are offered food and tea/coffee if we pay this first weekend. It works. Most people now have been happily separated from their money; which pays for water usage, NSALG fees, insurances, land rental (the ground is owned by the Parish Council).

In addition the shop is open. While it has been open regularly over the winter this feels like the start of a new season somehow (perhaps that was just me?). People coming to pay their fees are – quite naturally – tempted by the low prices-high quality items. Slug pellets (the wet weather must really suit the slugs and snails), Growmore, secateurs, forks and bags of lime… and a gobsmacking offer on peat compost!

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Seeds that have been ordered are being distributed, along with pre-ordered seed potatoes, shallots, onions sets and garlic. Because we order in bulk everyone benefits from enormous discounts and, surely, this is what allotment life should be about.

And, as last year there is a brazier going. The two guys nominally in charge of keeping it stoked –and alight! – have rigged up a wind-shield from a couple of pallets. which get “scrounged” so a plotholder can re-build his “muck heap”. Speaking of which a lady in a 4X4 with a trailer comes on site to deliver eight bags of stable litter. She leaves them at the top because she is “worried about damaging cars parked down the central roadway” – and there are a lot of ‘em! Banter, exchanges of information, word-of mouth conferences about compost (last week’s talk has stirred it up) and how-long-does-it-take parsnip-seeds to germinate (it’s not a joke people, but feel free to add a punch-line).

Sunday: same again, but sunny, bright blue skies and I could feel the land sunning itself. Driving back from the allotment we were followed by what I will describe with recognised political incorrectness as a W.A.G. and daughter in a top-down lilac convertible sports car: orange skin, big eyelashes and T-shirts. Blimey, I thought, it must be summer.

A little further along the main road I am doubly surprised: my first ice-cream van of 2014 touting for business!

Fees Collection: 22nd/23rd February

 

A big thanks from the committee to everyone who turned up last weekend to kick off the “new allotment year” in the four seasons that passed us by on Saturday and Sunday. We think that the free bacon sandwiches, porridge and hot drinks might have had something to do with so many turning up.

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This weekend (22nd and 23rd February) is the second and last weekend for paying your fees and giving us your contact details.

If you wish to renew your membership, you need to get down to the plots between 10 and mid-day.

After that we will begin to look at the waiting list* to give those people  a chance to take on a plot.

It is also a chance to collect seeds and seed potatoes that have been ordered. The seed potatoes are in plastic carrier bags at the moment –and are already starting to chit. They really need to be collected and put into boxes or something similar where they will grow away better.

 

* If you are interested in being put onto the waiting list, please complete and return the form below:

Part of A Caring Community: Co-op Presentation.


Overtaking a hazard-lights flashing car we’re in a traffic jam. Ten minutes to get to the Springvale Social Club. A little late we try to find a place on the already packed car park and join the throngs inside the hall. Four members of the committee – arriving in good time; it’s clearly a popular event.
“Brilliant, good that you’re here!” says Louise as we enter the brightly lit room. The hosts, Mid-Counties Co-op are genuinely welcoming and helpful.
We are here to receive a cheque for eighteen hundred pounds. Determined to try and get external funding for on-site toilets (plotholder’s annual fees are taken up by other overheads) we had applied for this two years ago. It wasn’t successful then, but earlier this year, to our pleasant surprise, the Co-op contacted us. We re-submitted and we were successful in this round.

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There’s an inspiring presentation at the opening about the values of the Co-op; about how they use the profits in three ways: to re-invest in the business, secondly to pay the members a share of the profits (so, well worth joining then to get the real dividend on what you spend) and finally to build the community. In a very real way it makes so much sense: it’s about looking after the environment, it’s about supporting the local – and being supported by it. (It all makes so much sense and, I’m thinking is so closely allied to what we are in the processes of the allotment philosophy.)
The crux of what twenty first century “green credential” politicians and eco-warriors are trying to sell us. Something that our predecessors – in Cheslyn Hay for sure, but most certainly on the allotments would recognise and, indeed, things that were part of everyday life rather than a “choice” to be made. (I am reminded, briefly but strongly of my own grandfather “tinkering” a saucepan when it sprang a leak and the pot that was always on the range with waste food boiling “for the hens”.
Group cheques are presented, along with a plaque to go with, in our case, the completed loo . There is a brave routine from the cheerleaders which deservedly gets a warm round of applause.
There is a really positive buzz about the evening. The people we meet are genuinely interested in what we – and other groups there – are about. There is a real sense of cooperation, inclusion, commitment and community. While tucking in to the free samples and refreshments (fresh fruit, flapjacks, pork pies, first mince pies of the year and tea or coffee) we are approached by so many people; we are not the only allotment holders here. The president of the society has an allotment in Oxford, one of the scout leaders has one in Fordhouses … we do our best to respond in kind because there is a genuine sense of partnership here and it’s catching.

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We are offered the opportunity to have volunteers come and help with the project. An offer we will consider but certainly one too good to refuse.
When we leave the traffic jams gone. Clear road home and talking about the next steps.
But to have the funding toilets for the allotment site? A really positive step forward.
To think it all started with a chance suggestion from a plotholder, somebody listening and thinking
“Hey! We might make that work!”
You just never know where these things will end up do you?
Thanks to the Mid-Counties Co-op for their generosity; and the other groups for their interest.
We wish them all well.

“Rhubarb Champagne Anyone?”

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Take thirty (or so) people, mix with fifteen (or so) bottles of home-made wines (various, the more the merrier and add the heat of a warm scout hut and some home baked mince pies, sausage rolls and, oo-er, a quiz.
This was the cheese (did I mention cheese?) and wine tasting evening on Saturday, 30th November.

The nerves of the organisers fading away after people began arriving – and after a few samples of rhubarb “champagne”, red currant and plum or damson wine.

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This was plotholders, their families and other members getting together to celebrate a good year, to taste the alcoholic side-produce made from surpluses, mistakes and dedication.
A light-hearted quiz gave a focus to the offers of coffee, tea or mulled wine.

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Conversation was about plans for Christmas (inevitably), what went well on the plots and what is being planned for next year (inevitably too). For maybe winter is about taking stock if you have an allotment; about what seed you have ordered (thanks shop committee) and what you plan to do a little differently – and why.
Thanks must go to 1st Cheslyn Hay Scout Group for making the venue available, particularly to the events committee for organising it, to those who brought bottles to be tasted and, indeed to everyone who turned up.
At the end of the evening ice had to be scraped from car windows – it is that time of year and …
…there were even some murmurs about doing a quiz again next year; although my educated guess is that these were from members of the two teams that tied for first place.

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