April 2022 Newsletter
Greetings fellow Plotters! April is the cruellest month said the poet - and given that we've had an early heatwave, followed by deep frost, then snow , then a gale, then rain, you might agree with him. But on the other hand the beans planted in November are up...
And the onions...
The tulips look beautiful...
The rhubarb is ginormous...
Brave people are planting lettuce...
And everywhere there are big black patches of soil emerging, ready for planting frenzy next month
So enjoy your plot this month, whatever the weather. The best is yet to come. And we're at the point in the year which is furthest away from having to pay your rent!
The Fundraiser on Saturday 26th March – a massive thank you
Didn’t we do well - everything came together on 26th; the sun shone down on us, people came in their droves and the music played all day. We raised over £3,700, possibly up to £4,000 when everything is factored in, a splendid achievement, well done us!!!
And none of this would have been possible without the fantastic support of our volunteers and contributors. I make no apologies for shouting out some names (surnames removed for privacy, apologies if I’ve missed anyone):
The amazing Moor Green limited edition prints - Sarah
Artworks - Tao, Maggie
BBQ - Carol, David, Steve, Mark and Jonathan B
Tea and Cakes – Jo, Matt, Britt (covid prevented her from attending on the day) and all of our cake makers
Pakora - Mohini
Caricatures - Ben
Raffle - Roopa, Henry, Angel and all who donated
Plants - Maureen , David, Oz, Henry, Paul (ditto on the covid)
Bar- Alan, Jon, Gemma, Angie, Andy, Oscar, Lorna, Anna, Jim
If you were there you can’t fail to have noticed the queues for the bar and BBQ. We sold out of cakes and burger buns within a few hours and Mohini’s pakora simply vanished. The bar volunteers and Carol deserve a special mention – with the bar under pressure to the end of the night. Many, many thanks you were all awesome.
And what amazing music! From DJ Dancerider who came with his mobile deck to kick us off with some lovers rock and reggae, the excellent Out of the Blue jazz swing band who brought the day to life, our mate Alastair who piped us in, Robin and his friend who valiantly played folk in the pavilion against a noisy backdrop, and Daz and his rockabilly band who we danced into the night with. Just stunning. Thank you all.
How Do We Manage?
You know that heroic bunch of 15 volunteers known as the committee? We've probably mentioned them before. In theory they are managing the site on behalf of the City Council under an agreement going back to 2015. In practice they are doing their best to collect the rents, keep the place operating, inspect plots regularly, keep the locks on the gates working, make sure the roads on site are passable and the plots free of floods, the grass cut, the fences keeping intruders out and every building on site is in possession of a working roof (see above). This is a pretty uphill battle, not least because the Council are in theory responsible for a number of those jobs and in practice either can't or won't do them. So the only stretch of fence that has been repaired in the last ten years was entirely paid for by us. The various culverts on sites are regularly blocked because they are crumbling and need to be replaced. We keep unblocking them. The ancient locks on the gates were unilaterally replaced by us at our own expense and a charge to all plotholders and social members. And all members of the committee are supposed to be trained in carrying out these various tasks but noone (and some of us are quite old..) can remember this training ever happening. So this management agreement isn't working for us. It was good therefore to go to a city-wide meeting of allotments sites at Bordesley Green on 19th March and learn that it wasn't working for anyone else either. Organised by Birmingham District Allotments Confederation (BDAC) there were 40+ attendees from sites all across the city. We also had a very useful input from the National Society on different models of self-management which were in operation in other parts of the country, and the legal implications of moving in that direction. It was agreed that a small group of site secretaries/chairs should meet to consider next steps in finalising a management agreement and develop a proposition to go back to BDAC and all sites in the city. The meetings will take place over the next two months here at Moor Green and will be chaired by your site secretary who didn't take one step back quickly enough when a volunteer was requested. BDAC is organising the meeting and taking notes.
Essentially it looks as though the meeting will consider how to move to an improved version of the draft management agreement based around the following three options
· Full self-management for all sites under a comprehensively redrafted management agreement with a single model of incorporation for all sites
· A full self-management arrangement for sites who wished it. All sites taking this route would need to incorporate i.e. establish a limited company
· A revised and massively improved management agreement, which would include the option for sites to move towards self-management over a period of years.
Watch this space - this is much too important an issue to be decided by the committee alone. Every plotholder needs to be involved in deciding which, if any, of these options work best for us. We will keep you posted over the next couple of months up to our Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Date for Diary Date for Diary Date for Diary - Saturday 2nd July
Our AGM on 2nd July is the big day for community democracy on our site. This is the meeting where you get to elect the committee , to approve - hopefully - the annual accounts and to hear what the old committee has been up to. It's also your chance to get ideas, innovations, complaints and anything else you want to air onto the agenda. In addition to that, this year we will also be considering
what's our long-term plan for the clubhouse either with a new roof - if the Council has repaired it by then - or in urgent need of a new roof well before next Autumn's storms
How do we progress to a better management agreement with the Council and what are the options
Please do your best to attend. At any time of the year you can bend your zone reps ear, catch a committee member in the bar and offer your views. And many do - very vigorously. But this is the meeting where things get decided. And there will be tea and biscuits....
At Your Convenience
We don't often talk about toilets in the Newsletter - can't think why. But here's some hot news especially for those people whose plots are miles away from the clubhouse. The toilets by the bore hole are fully functioning now, regularly cleaned and with a fresh supply of toilet paper. So that's nice. Meanwhile at the other end of the site, the Zone J toilets have had a facelift - all cleaned and refurbished with new cisterns thanks to Jim Daly and Jenny Jupe. Please continue to flush with water from the IBC behind the block, so that it is emptied, the soil collecting against the back wall cleared and the IBC re-sited to be safer. It is hoped to plumb the cisterns into the IBC to flush the toilets from rain water. Your cooperation is appreciated.
We could be on Telly!
A production team filming for a Cbeebies Nature Programme visited us at Moor Green on Monday 6th April. We will let you know when it's likely to be shown. Then you can force your children or grandchildren to watch and drive up the ratings! This is of course in the fantasy world where your kids do what you ask without question....
These will be starting again in June led by Paul Rooney , the site manager with a small group of fellow committte members and the relevant zone rep where available. These inspections are always approached sympathetically - we want to solve problems, not create them. So if you're concerned that your plot isn't cultivated for good reason, like for example bereavement or illness, Covid-related or otherwise , please let your zone rep or Paul know.