Hurray, hurray the first of May - outdoor pizzas start today!
Well, 7th May to be exact. And it was a sell out again with Off the Plot Pizza serving all afternoon. Despite an unavoidable late start, more than 60 people enjoyed wood-fired pizza in the sun. Though this month’s ingredients were not literally ‘off the plot’, we’re all looking forward to a bumper crop of tomatoes, courgettes, and other fresh toppings.
The current plan is for the oven to be fired up on the first Saturday of every month, and ultimately the oven will be situated on a permanent brick base adjacent to the barbecue. This will give us better capacity for catering going forwards - and of course, the oven is good for more than just pizza!
In time, we’d like to invite people to bring their own ingredients from the plot, and prepare / cook their own pizzas. So, get growing!
Turned Out Nice Again
Moor Green is looking good again - we're definitely into the good times now. Even coming down to the gate makes you feel better
And everything's growing; broad beans busting out of their support frames
Canny people netting to keep the pigeons/squirrels/fruit bats (well the climate is getting warmer) off their soft fruit
Titanic amounts of digging being done to get ready for planting
Models of Ayers Rock made of compost mysteriously appearing all over the place
Lots of energy being deployed. You can relax for five minutes though to enjoy the best secret park in the city
On the Other Hand....
Enough about how lovely it is here, what about Ukraine? We've had an approach from Izzy Knowles, now Lib Dem Councillor for Moseley, to ask for some space for Ukrainian refugees to plant, grow, adjust to their new world, do things together, meet the local community etc. It's fair to say that the committee enthusiastically supported the idea without knowing much more than that. But Izzy has promised us more detail re timeframe, scale, what specific needs there might be - hopefully at our next meeting in early June. Your views welcome - positive or negative. It does mean someone else who wants a plot having to wait a bit longer and that needs to be factored in. Watch this space.
The June Drop
Apparently that's what they call that strange occurrence where half your apples fall off the tree three months early. It's also what we're asking you to do - but only briefy - in time for for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 2nd July. Drop everything and think hard about volunteering yourself - or someone else that you trust/respect - to become a member of the committee. We're really worried about who sits on the committee on a number of counts
the current age profile - 65 is probably the average age and that's only thanks to Danni, Oscar and Jonathan. Otherwise it would be nearer 70.
Women - we currently have four on a committee of 15
Minority communities; well they certainly are on this committee, despite a huge diversity on site
We don't really feel at all representative of the community we serve - though we do our best. At its most basic being a committee member means attending a meeting for two hours once a month and our chairman ensures we never go over time. We have people who volunteer in other areas who already do way more than two hours a month, but it seems harder to get volunteers for the committee than for the bar. If you are interested but would like to learn more - especially if you might redress the balance under 1,2 or 3 above - contact David on email@example.com or or Max on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations can be made from Friday 20th May. We will put a list up inside and outside the clubhouse that day. You do need to be nominated and seconded - to ensure that at least two other people on site can vouch for your sanity. Closing date for nominations is 18th June, so we can circulate names in good time before the AGM on 2nd July. Go on, do it. You know it makes sense..
Look at these lovely people! Naomi and Rob have backgrounds in teaching in the UK, south East Asia and Central America. Rob is a professional sculptor and model maker and teaches art in a school. Naomi has a BSc in conservation biology and ecology and is a forest school practitioner and growing coordinator at EcoGrow CIC. They have two young children and live close to the elements on a narrow boat currently moored in south Birmingham.
EcoGrow CIC was started in June 2020 primarily as a response to Covid-19. Individuals and families were struggling with physical and mental wellbeing, children were off school and fresh food in the shops was sparse. It was developed as an opportunity to be a solution to some of those problems and to offer a safe outdoor space to be, learn and play. They also go out to schools and community groups to give talks and run workshops about environmental conservation issues. We've agreed to let them have a bit of (non- plot space) for them to develop a forest school here for the local community - including of course, plotholders' children. It's that little copse/rubbish dump at the Cannon Hill Park end of the site where the beehives are. Safe, out of the way and full of forest potential, once they've cleared it up. If you're around on 18th May and would like to meet Naomi and Rob, they're onsite beginning the clear up job - and would love a helping hand!
If you like EcoGrow you might also like this - Sowing a Meadow of Hope: June 11th
Management Agreement with the Council
We've met the Council ! A small group of representatives from across all sites in the city met no less a person than Darren Share, Head of Parks, together with Jo Hayden, also of Parks and our very own Allotment Officer, Bernadette Wilson. We set out the options we were considering i.e.
· Full self-management for all sites under a comprehensively redrafted management agreement with a single model of incorporation for all sites. Key to this would be individual sites retaining a much bigger share of annual rental income
· A full self-management arrangement for sites who wished it i.e. a hybrid management model
· A revised and massively improved management agreement, which would include the option for sites to move towards self-management over a period of years.
The Council were open to all of these options but Darren did say that on on option 1 he would need to be reassured that sites had a long-term commitment to self-management. It was agreed that Darren would consider two early drafts of options 1 and 3 above without prejudice – and respond at a meeting provisionally scheduled for 24th May. The group emphasised that we would have to create a serious consultation process across all sites in the city to ensure that any option negotiated had general support. A provisional date to conclude discussions was set as end of November. So we can see the end of the tunnel, even if there is no light there yet. As ever we will keep you posted, especially at the AGM where we hope to be able to discuss worked up versions of the various options.
Produce Show; Date for your diary
Sunday 4th September is our Annual Produce Show. Enter your prize produce before midday. It's then examined and assessed by our nationally esteemed judges (Oz and a bloke from another site) and then displayed to the world. We will be using the same format as last year where plotholders can submit an arrangement of different produce as well as individual veg - which people seemed to like last year. We are also keen to make an open day of it so if you're interested in having a craft stall to sell your wares, just email Max. Food and drink will also be available all day. Maybe we should put all prizewinning vegetables on pizzas....
You thought we'd forgotten. The roof seems to be the most regular news item we have. But in truth - and frustratingly - not much to report this month. We know from our contact Mike Hinton that a report has been submitted to the senior finance person in Parks and Leisure asking that a budget be identified for the roof replacement. We know that the local elections have delayed any decision at least until June. We have asked them for a clear yes/no on whether they intend to replace and are working on contingemcy plans if the answer is no. We will keep plugging.
Commonwealth Games vs Allotments - No Contest!
We don't like to think what you would say if the Council took away car access to our site in August. Probably what they're saying on Walsall Road..Sign the petition in solidarity here..