...took place on 17 August 2019
Apologies received from lots of people.
Present: Lesley, Kate, Jenny, Sue, Hazel, Sheila, Caroline W and boys, Gary, Liz, Nadine, and guests Phil, and Robert Bryant (Allotment Warden Eastcombe)
1. Nadine told us about Stroud Valleys Project work on the allotment (was tenanted by the Ronans Trust).
They hold group sessions and are planting a small-scale tree nursery of beeches grown from seed – all germinated – plus various shrubs and currant bushes. Group sessions included planting, weeding, and scything. We visited the SVP plot.
2. We visited the compost loo – nearly complete!
3. Jenny flagged the Eastcombe Show (watch the notice board for date)
4. The Bee Project: Hazel reported that she had now completed bee care training. A hive is planned for 2020 in the very far corner of the allotments, next to her chickens, with the queen and brood supplied by Keith Dickenson.
5. Peter Benn had asked if he could keep ducks on his plot. Everyone agreed (subject to tenancy agreement welfare clause).
6. Stroud Food Bank donations of excess produce: agreement we continue with these each Friday from mid-September (Sue has offered a weekly supply of perennial kale!!). (Lesley adds we will need a ‘rota’ of willing volunteers to take stuff to Stroud on Fridays for 12 noon)
• Jenny & Lesley thought the tree nursery was good for the Parish’s pro-active tree planting policy. How do we take this forward?
• Nadine was challenged to scythe the meadow between the allotments and community orchard…there might be a trial area to begin with!
• We suggested that the compost loo could be decorated by local children with themes on the soil etc. Nadine thought there were several people who might be invited to open it and publicise it.
• Re compost loo, some thought it should be widely publicised as it was so special; others were more cautious in case it might be abused. It has a lock with the allotment code.
• The compost loo ss not quite finished; Lesley will alert everyone when its ready for use. Once the pathway is done then the loo will be wheel chair accessible.
• Kate thought a propagator / group polytunnel for starting off seeds /vulnerable plants would be helpful for a lot of allotment holders.
This was supported. Lesley will explore.
• Discussion about snails, slugs and soil health: there is a decline in thrushes, none seen here. Nadine had seen blackbirds eating snails. Liz thought that mulching continuously over some years without disturbing the soil had some effect on reducing slug numbers; possibly the encouragement of predators such as centipedes on slug eggs. Nadine felt it could be good to research this - perhaps Glos University the Wildlife Trust might be interested in helping identify creatures in the soil. She said glow worm larvae ate slugs but none have ever been seen on the allotments.
• Wildlife on the allotments was discussed. Liz observed there had been an increase in magpies; the edible hedgerow appeared to be supporting more farmland birds; there had been more butterflies, moths and many more orchids this year. There are still slow worms (despite an unwelcome increase in cats) and grass snakes on the allotments. Unfortunately, no one had seen the hedgehogs this year. The wildlife record book is in the allotment hut.
• Lesley flagged a visit to the natural Japanese form of farming without inputs in Wiltshire (Shumei).
Finally, we went on a tour of plots – SVP’s, Kate’s, Sue’s and Caroline’s.
Many thanks to everyone who brought delicious cake!! (These thanks exclude my horrible failure in the cake making department!!)