Plot Inspections – Another Update

For those not on Facebook we thought that it right to publish this response(Post) to comments made on Facebook about Inspections.

Plot Inspections - An explanation
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First point to make is that this is a lengthy post so please take time to read it in its entirety before making any comments.
Second point to make is, don’t shoot the messenger.

Plot Inspections - Why do we have them?
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Short answer; to ensure that tenants comply with the Tenancy Agreement that everyone has signed when they took on the allotment from Woodley Town Council (WTC).
It states - The Tenant shall have at least 50% of the allotment under cultivation of crops and 70% worked after 12 months....

I think everyone would agree that this does not suddenly happen ‘one day’ before the 12 months are up! It takes time to bring an unused plot back into production - unless you are lucky enough to take over a plot that is already growing ‘stuff’ (I wish!).

That said, it would seem logical that any tenant signing up for an allotment would look to work a part of the plot from the very beginning to show that progress has either started or is progressing. Clearly seasons, weather, time and physical ability dictate what progress might be made.

All plot inspections take these factors into account when they are carried out. For example, not a lot grows in the winter, so the inspection would expect to find many of the plots covered and shut down that is perfectly acceptable. Likewise come the spring season, an inspection would expect to see some activity starting, may be some lifting of the covers, even some early planting; by summer an inspection would look to see an increase in activity with more planting. The same goes for an Autumn Inspection, looking for progress.

Plot inspections are not a ‘science’, it’s an objective view of what is happening on a plot and there will a great deal of variation for many reasons. For example, this last eighteen or so months have been a challenge for many people. The committee was approached by a number of tenants who had to ‘self-isolate’ due to Covid; some had other reasons such as being essential workers with no spare time, a few for other reasons.

Because they contacted the committee (as we ask all plot holders to do if they are having problems tending to their plots) they were left of the inspections rota and did not receive any letters. Many of them have thankfully returned to their plots, some have still to return which is why you may see some isolated unkept plots dotted around the site.

Plot Inspection are all about looking at the progress of the process of growing vegetables, Fruit, Flowers etc. after all it that not why we wanted to have an Allotment in the first place?

Yes there will be times when you need to cover the plot (but not for a whole year), yes there will be times when you get behind with tasks, yes there will be times when you feel that you have taken on more than you can cope with. This is why we say, contact the committee and tell us, so that we can talk with you about it and work out the best way forward.

There are currently 80 plus eager souls on the waiting list ready to take on an allotment and I think it is only right in light of the upsurge in gardening/being outside that we all use as much as possible what we have or pass it on to one of those 80 plus people on the waiting list.

Who Does the Plot Inspections?
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This is done by members of the committee on behalf of WTC.

The committee members are all volunteers, these are the same volunteers who...
- Organised the Skips
- Organised the Road Repairs 
- Organised CCTV for improvement of site safety
- Lobbied WTC for better gate security via soon to be replaced improved Keys
- Organise Regular Rat traps/bait
- Lobbied WTC for grass cutting
- Continue to repair Perimeter Fencing when required
- Continue to maintain and liaise with on-site Charity Plots

On the last Plot inspection (June 2021), committee members were joined by additional plot holders to see how an inspection was performed. This was in response to the last Facebook discussion! If you would like to join our next inspection ‘walk’ on behalf of WTC, then please let us know via the email at the end of this post.

If you receive a letter who do you contact and it’s not Facebook
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Firstly, Woodley Town Council (WTC), they can be contacted on 0118 969 0356, asking for Heidi or by email on admin@woodley.gov.uk

Secondly and if you cannot connect with WTC, the Committee who can be contacted via email on readingrdallotments@hotmail.co.uk

However, as we had mentioned a number of times in previous posts, newsletters and special Bulletins, if you do have a problem with your plot, whatever that might be please contact us on readingrdallotments@hotmail.co.uk

An example of this happened today. From the recent June 2021 inspection, one tenant who received a letter from WTC contacted the Committee today(1st June) and a discussion has happened between the committees and the plot holder. WTC have been informed and the issue is now resolved.

We hope that this post explains more about Plot inspections, why they happen and what is being looked at. If you do have any general comments, please feel free to comment following the FB group guidelines or if they are more specific about your plot, then please feel free to use the email address above.

Many thanks
Scott Golding
Chair
Woodley Allotments Tenants Association

Please feel free to comment about this using the comment page here.

Plot Inspections – Background Info.

We have written in the May Newsletter some information about Plot Inspections and why they are carried out.

Back in December 2018 Woodley Town Council and the Allotment Association Committee jointly published a Special Bulletin – Plot Inspections – What are the Criteria? to help explain the reasons for regular Plot Inspections.

You can download a copy of that Special Bulletin here.

History of the Allotment Site

We are always looking for historical pictures of the Allotment Site and are very grateful to Ken Demman for sharing these images of his plots since he arrived on the site back in 1986.

We have used four of them in this post, but you can see more of them on our History of the Allotments page.

If you have some images to share, then please get in contact via our Contact Page.

National Allotments Week & NAS Plot-holders Survey

A date for your diaries – National Allotments Week 2021 9th August till 15th August. This years theme in 2021 is ‘Plotting for the Future’; celebrating the contribution that allotments make to a sustainable future.

Also for those who filled in the NAS 2020 Plot-holders Survey, they have started to publish initial results, so far…

  • At the end of 2020 there were several news reports that women were taking over the plots – your answers told us that the ratio of men to women is now 53/47% with some regional variations- this matched up with our Members Survey.
  • It was also heartening to see how many people – 52% were using gardening practices that reduced chemical use and supported bio-diversity.
  • 53% of respondents gardened with a family member or friend and for 11% of you good mental health was the most significant benefit that you got from your plot.
  • The answers to the questions about gardening know-how highlighted the importance of personalised info – friends and other plot-holders were the most popular source of knowledge and 32% of you would have appreciated a mentor or gardening buddy when you first started growing.

    More to follow as they publish more data.

Allotment Rents

Plot Rents are now well overdue from some 30 plus Tenants and with the pressure of a large waiting list currently standing at 69, you could end up losing your plot due to unpaid rent!

If you still haven’t made your payment, please do so as a matter of urgency.If you no longer require your plot, please can you let the council know as soon as possible.

Many thanks & Best regards
Scott Golding
Chair
Allotments Committee

New to the Allotment? – What next?

This post is a helpful repeat of the Newsletter Articles from the October 2020 and February 2021 editions in full. Let us know if you have any comments or feedback. We will be adding further similar articles as the 2021 growing season gets going.

A number of new tenants have taken up plots on the site over the last few months & perhaps are wondering what to do next. So here’s a sample list of resources that may be helpful for first time ‘allotmenteer’.

What to grow? – See the chart on this page to give you a good idea of what you can grow and when it requires sowing/harvesting. Of course, some of this depends on what the soil is like on your plot, making a soil test will help you understand that. You can also ask other tenants what grows best.

Crop Rotation – The RHS defines this as ‘The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.’

There is an amazing amount of online information about this subject – the author works in a four year rotation – but you can also have a three plan. Here’s some more information about the subject.

You may have taken over a plot that has not been used for quite a while and needs some work done on it to get it back in shape and one of those things that will help is adding organic matter back in.

It will take a bit of time to build up your own compost heap, so what to use?

Again a wide variety of information is online, here’s a few (in no particular order) that may help…

There may seem to be a lot to do on your new allotment; don’t try to do everything in the first year, sow some easy to raise produce to have a small but productive harvest.

It will take time to really get your plot into full production and at the end of the day; you want to be able to enjoy your newly found hobby.