New arrangements for paying rent.
If you rent an allotment from Ashford Borough Council, 'read more'
A full report of the Open Meeting to discuss the Allotment Review being carried out by Ashford Borough Council, with the facts and figures is now available for you to read. It pops as a drop-down item on the News and What's On menu item, or you can click here.
New rules on water usage
You may have already seen the poster on the noticeboards about water usage. The text of the is reprinted below in case you haven't yet spotted it.
The new rules have been brought in after a great deal of consideration and discussion, with ordinary plotholders on the Working Group being fully consulted and their ideas put first.
The council does not want to make it difficult for people to water their allotments. However careful monitoring of water use has shown that those few people who use hoses consume water out of all proportion to the good it does to their plots. They not only use far, far more than their neighbours, their crops are not usually noticeably that much better for it. It is clear that, compared to those who water with cans, a huge percentage of the water put on by hose simply evaporates and does the plants little good.
The water supplied to the allotments is metered drinking water just the same as comes out of your kitchen tap at home. The cost of this water forms a large part of the costs of running the allotments. The council does not want to have to charge us for water, as they understand this would mean the careful gardeners paying for the water wasted by others, and would be very unpopular. However, with the pressure on the budgets increasing every year, we have a choice: reduce water usage or pay a substantial charge for using it.
What do you do if you see someone using a hose or sprinkler to water?
What do you do if you have a physical disability which means it will be difficult to use cans?
- Talk to your site rep or speak to Eileen Law at the council. firstname.lastname@example.org, 01233 330528
The council is looking into finding a source of very cheap water butts for plotholders.
TEXT OF THE COUNCIL'S POSTER FOLLOWS:
Important Announcement regarding Water usage
Following the open meeting on the 20th of July where water usage was discussed it was agreed that rather than charging plot holders for water it would be better to find ways of
reducing the water usage. If we can reduce water usage by 25% over the next year we would be able to avoid charging plot holders.
A few ways of achieving this are shown below.
Firstly, watering plots using a hose pipe will no longer be allowed. However, you can use a hose pipe to fill water butts/ watering cans/barrels. We have been made aware that on
several sites there are tenants who use hose pipes and leave them watering their plots for hours at a time. The water is for all tenants to use and therefore everyone should be able to
access it. Sprinklers are not allowed at any time. We understand that this may be difficult for some and if you feel that you will not be able to cope using this system please speak to your site rep who will discuss it with you to see what can be done to assist you.
Secondly, Encourage the use of water butts and rainwater collection from sheds etc. This will ensure that you have water on your plot and not have to carry it any distance. There are many useful tips on the Ashford Allotment Society’s Website
(Click here to go to that page)
The Working Group are continuing to meet once a month to search out other ways to improve the Allotment Service and will feed back to the Allotment Society any ideas. Please share any ideas you may have with your site representative who can pass them on to me, or email me at Allotments@ashford.gov.uk to put them forward to the working group for consideration.
Let's work together to improve the Allotment Service
Autumn cropping broad bean
One of the things I do is sign up to all the newsletters and let you know about anything really interesting that shows up. Sadly, there is rarely anything new. D T Brown are offering an Autumn Cropping Broad Bean, which is interesting, but you have to buy plants not seeds and it is NOT cheap! Below is an extract from their website:
DT Brown's price is 30 plants for £14.90 ("Buy two and get the third free") I don't call nearly 50p a plant a good price for broad beans, but maybe you could save your own seed? Or you could get a packet from Suttons for £3.75 - too late for this year, but maybe next season? Suttons say you sow them in May for a crop in November in 'mild areas' - rather a different version and proof that you have to be careful.
Show Report and best plot winners
The show report is now written. We'd love some more photos so if you took some please send them to us. Read the report by clicking here.
Below are the results of the Best Plot Competition. Use the controls at the bottom of the box to increase the size of the text and to scroll up and down. A respectable showing by our reps and congratulations to Alex and Karen Fraser, whose 'Best Newcomer' plot is stunning, and to our Society's Treasurer Brian Stamp for getting Best in Borough. Well done all those who were placed. I can see names on that list who don't appear on our email addresses for members - if that's you, then do let us have your address and we'll make sure you don't miss any important news.
I know many of you wanted to come to this meeting but were unable to do so. I will be posting a full report once I have got some facts and figures from Julie Rogers. However I can say straight away that it was a useful and productive meeting, that the proposals which were outlined all made sense and there was nothing to scare us.
Final decisions still have to made as Julie Rogers and the council team were waiting to get feedback from the meeting, before putting together the proposals which will be passed to the cabinet for approval in the autumn.
The Working Group will continue to meet and anyone who has ideas or who would like to represent the views of the plotholders on their site should get in touch with Julie Rogers at the Civic Centre or by email at JULIER@ashford.gov.uk. New Working Group members with contributions to make will be welcomed.
At the meeting Julie Rogers apologised for the unfortunate wording of the survey which led people to expect a huge price rise. Though a rise will be unavoidable, the level of rises being considered depends on other money-saving ideas, and there will not be a large increase per rod or perch.
A number of measures are being considered to reduce costs and most of these are administrative and will not make life harder for the plotholder. A number of ways are being considered of taking action to avoid plots sitting empty or neglected; something all allotmenteers will welcome. However, changes to concessions are also being discussed to bring Ashford into line with other local authorities. Some money-saving changes being considered will affect new plotholders but not existing tenants.
Water management is still very much under discussion though some ideas put forward so far have been rejected as too impractical or unfair. The main proposal which will go forward as soon as notices have been put up on sites is that watering with hosepipes will no longer be allowed. To make things fair, hosepipes may be used by (especially of course by those a long way from a water point) to fill butts or even, in the case of those with health problems, to fill cans. As we understand it, what will no longer be allowed is holding a hose and using it to squirt or spray water over the plot. The council is looking into ways of helping people obtain water butts cheaply, and projects for fitting shed roofs with gutters and downpipes are also being looked at.
This measure is being brought in after full discussion and after plotholders on the working party had assessed the amount of a site's water use which is down to hosepipes in comparison with cans. It should not affect good gardening and will only work to avoid waste. Many gardeners who actually have hoses on their plots find they are not the best way of watering and prefer not to use them except to fill butts anyway. For tips on the best use of water see Using Water Wisely in the advice section.
If water wastage can be tackled succesfully, then it is hoped that the much-feared introduction of water charges may be avoided. The common sense and co-operation of all plotholders will be needed to reduce water costs, and the working group believes this can be done without damaging good gardening practice or affecting people's crops.
The meeting was very positive with useful discussion and no hint of strife. All those present had ample chance to speak, and Julie Rogers also invited feedback, comments and suggestions in writing from all those present. Many people took the opportunity to contribute and all written notes were carefully collected by Eileen for consideration by the Working Group later.
More later with details, exact proposals and what happens next.
You may wish to know this . . . .
The manager of Ashford Wilkinson's has very kindly just let me know that mini-greenhouses , seed trays and various other bits have now gone 75% off. Some seeds are now 50% off too.
Our thanks go to Wilkinson's for donating prizes for our Show, including the Star Prize of ergonomically designed spade and fork won by Mark Chandler this year.
Summer Show this week!
Colin last year with his welcome prizes for his baking in 2014.
The Summer Show is on Saturday 18th July - make up your mind to enter something, even if it is only one or two classes. Your chances of winning are much better than you think. Check out the show schedule and if you're thinking "Hmmm" remember everyone is in the same boat and your carrots, peas or redcurrants - or your jam , pickles or cake - are as likely to win as anyone else's.
The Summer Show is at Kennington Junior School, Upper Vicarage Road Kennington TN24 9AG. Entries from 10am to 11.45am. Open to the public 2-5pm. Masses of parking. Tea and cake. Prize raffle. Stalls. Don't miss it!
July 20th, the Monday after the Summer Show, is the day of the big meeting. Do not miss this! The Working Group have been hard at it developing bright new ideas to improve the allotments and fighting to keep rents rises to an absolute minimum. The Working Group has ordinary plotholders like you on it as well as experts from the NSALG, council people with good ideas from other departments and allotment reps. This meeting is your chance to hear those ideas and give your opinion.
The meeting has been called by the council and will be chaired by Julie Rogers, who is the head of Environment and Customer Services, and has been chairing the Working Party.
Julie has booked the main council chamber with bags of room, and everyone will have a chance to speak.
From what I have heard so far I hope you will be pleasantly surprised and impressed. After this meeting, proposals will be finalised to put to the Cabinet of the council, so don't miss your chance.
The Open Meeting is at the Civic Centre at 6.15pm on Monday 20th July.
It is open to all allotmenteers so if you usually cultivate your allotment with a family member, they should come along them even if their name isn't actually on the paperwork.
A home-grown website
This website is happy to publicise all garden-related events.