Newsletter - January 2022

Updated: Jan 17


Happy New Year! It's cold and wet down on the plot this month - a good time for dreaming, planning, removing that tree stump that's been bothering you for five years or cheering yourself up by seeing a centimetre of rhubarb crown, broad bean or shallot poking through. And even now there's news to report.

That Roof

Well, the “temporary” replacement is still on, almost a month after the Council contractors fitted it. The trouble is that none of us knows how long this temporary fix will need to last. The Council is currently deliberating over the costs of the full replacement job. Their original estimate of £45-60k was completely unaffordable, so we earnestly hope that they’re finding a way to revise this downwards. All we can do at the moment is continue to pester them while at the same time not forcing them into a decision that we don’t want i.e. abandonment of the whole project. Realistically we’re hoping that they will come up with a significantly lower estimate and that we can negotiate some shared contribution deal with them. We will keep you posted. Meantime come and enjoy a drink or just a nice sit down after your labours. Currently the bar is open every Saturday and Sunday afternoon - and put 26th March in your diary (see below).

And remember the heroes – those volunteer bar staff who carried on serving through the leaking roof period and Christmas and New Year. Massive thanks to them all.


Raising the Roof

We will be having a “Raising the Roof “event on the evening of 26th March, partly to celebrate the fact that the clubhouse is back in full swing after a pandemic and a disappearing roof and partly of course to raise funds (see above). Please note that this is not a business meeting of any kind or a semi-official event or a routine gathering of workers which happens to have a buffet and some booze – it’s a PARTY. The prime minister will not be attending so he doesn’t need to forget he was there. Expect live music, bar open until late, hot food and free onion sets to every customer. I may have made the last bit up. You should have planted them by now anyway…

Raising the Fence

Just to demonstrate that we’re not completely obsessed with the roof, here’s something about the fence. Last year two volunteers (Jon and Steve) painstakingly attached two sections of Harris Fencing to a stretch of sagging fencing next to the path down to the river Rea. This was a proper job using steel ties to make the fix last. Some halfwit or wits have decided that it would be fun to break the ties and chuck the fencing into some adjacent bushes. It doesn’t even look like a break-in, just gormless vandalism. Can we have some volunteers please to help us put this back and make it even more secure this time? Shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours – Saturday 5th February at 1.00 p.m. Just let Paul Rooney know if you can help – his email is madahal.sitemanager@gmail.com

Avian Flu

Really sad news from our neighbours in Cannon Hill Park – just had this from another social network “so far they've lost 70 geese and 2 swans to this terrible bird virus. To watch the swans with no support in their necks just desperately trying to move forward but just going round in circles was heartbreaking (the virus affects their neurological function). I just wish they could isolate the healthy ones or they're going to lose them all”.

Plotholders who keep poultry must be particularly concerned. Here is an extract from the latest (November 2021) government advice to poultry keepers

All bird keepers must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet. Poultry keepers must:

  • house or net all poultry and captive birds to keep them separate from wild birds

  • cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with poultry and captive birds – if practical, use disposable protective clothing

  • reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry and captive birds are kept, to minimise contamination from manure, slurry and other products, and use effective vermin control

  • thoroughly cleanse and disinfect housing on a continuous basis

  • keep fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all farm and poultry housing entry and exit points

  • minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and captive birds and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds

And some practical guidance from Danni - our lead man on poultry

  • Invest in some finer mesh netting to stop small birds - who are the most likely spreader of the infection - from getting into your chicken runs

  • Don't buy any new chicks or bring any new poultry onto the site - it's the other known way for the infection to spread among poultry.

Vera Harris

It is with sadness that we heard of the passing of Vera Harris, wife of Rex. Vera was a long standing plotholder and friend to many at the allotments. She will be greatly missed. Our condolences are sent to Rex, Maggie and the family.

Malcolm Caston

Our condolences also to the family and friends of longstanding plotholder Malcolm Caston - Plot 77 in Zone B - who sadly passed away at the end of November. Malcolm was hugely supportive of our allotment community and a very reliable volunteer in the Seed Store. If you knew him and wish to you can leave a tribute by clicking on the link below

https://malcolmcaston.muchloved.com

The funeral service is at Erdington Abbey on Tuesday 18th January 2022 at 11:30 am followed by the burial at Witton cemetery at 13:00.

Learn to Grow!

We (well Oz our horticultural adviser to be precise) are organising a series of MasterClass workshops on a whole range of topics of interest (we hope) for the allotment gardener. The workshops will be taking place on a Saturday morning, probably monthly commencing in March. In the past these have proved very popular and have attracted visitors from other sites as well as wannabe plotholders. More detail in our

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