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Hi all

A quick round-up of some items about the allotment as we continue in lockdown. If anyone wants to share something on the website as part of our general update, please send to me kim.scrivener@gmail.com

GARDEN CENTRES

The scheme we have agreed with Aylett has proved to be very straightforward. I compiled a list of requests with contact details to Ayletts on Thursday, and on Friday they contacted the customers, discussed the order (in case there were any issues) and took payment. A time was then agreed for the customer to collect their order in a trolley just outside the side entrance – usually on the same day! Nobody else around as they are shut, so safe for them and safe for us. I therefore encourage you, if you need gardening supplies, to send me an email with your order, including quantity and whether substitutes are acceptable – and most important, your contact details. I will then send to Ayletts in one email and they will then deal with you direct. They are experiencing significant problems because of course the whole centre is shut. So although people are emailing in (they are not taking phone calls) it takes some time for staff to work through. Burydell Lane is very fortunate, as Ayletts want to give us priority. Some have asked if a delivery can be made direct to the site – the problem with this is that they are already flat out with deliveries, and of course, there will be the problem of how to get the stuff to the right people. In view of social distancing for both their staff and our plotholders, the current scheme seems the most sensible. So please do think about supporting a good local garden centre, who needs all our help and who wants to help us to keep growing!! My email is kim.scrivener@gmail.com – please do not call me as it is much easier dealing with email.

There is also a petition “Gardeners, gardens, : KEEP GARDEN CENTRES TRADING”. If you want to help, the goal is to reach 5,000 signatures and more support is needed. You can read more and sign the petition here:
http://chng.it/sTzvJJPYKp

SITE ISSUES

The barrier has now been lifted!!

We have put away for the time being all “communal” tools, e.g. wheelbarrows, shovels, to minimise risk. I have discovered that it is perfectly possible to open the gate padlock with normal gardening gloves, so please do that in future – no need for food hygiene or surgical gloves. The same etiquette applies to water taps – please use your gloves.

SEEDS AND SEEDLINGS

We have heard of individuals who already have spare seedlings – if you are in that lucky position and want to help others, please leave them on the table outside the hut. The same applies to spare seeds.

COMMITTEE

And finally, your committee is still meeting even in these difficult times! Thanks to all of them for their ongoing commitment and enthusiasm in embracing new technology!

AYLETTS
The Committee is delighted to confirm that we have come to an arrangement with Ayletts during this difficult time that will benefit us as well as them. As you may know, Ayletts are completely overrun with deliveries at the moment. They are not answering phone calls and only responding to individual queries via email as they are operating on a skeleton basis. We are therefore offering a temporary service to allow plotholders to still obtain their gardening supplies while at the same time reducing the load on Ayletts and helping them maintain their business. The service will work as follows:

1. If you want to order any supplies, email Kim Scrivener (kim.scrivener@gmail.com) with the following information:

*Product name and quantity including whether substitutions would be acceptable
*Your email address
*Your telephone number
*Your address (in case of 4. below)
*Your plot number or membership status

2. Kim will collate orders on a weekly basis and forward the consolidated list to Ayletts each Thursday. They will then contact you for payment over the phone.

3. Ayletts will make the orders available for collection in their car park during a specified time slot on a Saturday with a named trolley of goods. You will get an email from Kim to tell you when. There is security so nothing will go missing. Please observe all the normal social distancing!

4. If you cannot collect because you are self-isolating, let Kim know. We will then arrange to collect and bring to your home.

Ayletts have asked me to make it clear that there can be no contact with their staff – the idea is to ensure you have supplies with minimal risk to yourselves or to them. Ayletts has been a strong supporter of our Site for years and this would be an excellent way to repay them.

ST STEPHENS GARDENING CLUB

As the hut is now closed, the Club has very generously donated some potatoes which can be planted now, as well as onion sets. They are outside the hut. 

SEEDS AND SEEDLINGS

If you have spare seeds please consider donating them to the site as others may appreciate them. They can be left on the table outside the hut. If you are sowing and have plenty of seedlings, please also consider donating spares to help others – again they can be left on the table outside the hut. 

 

I am very pleased to confirm that Pat, our Site Officer, has spoken to St Albans Council, and based on Government advice, they have today confirmed that the allotments remain open at the moment. Social distancing obviously applies and no group activities are permitted as per government rules. This means:

* No ad hoc barbecues or other social gatherings
* No visitors to the site – only plotholders, that is, those who regularly tend the plot, should come to the site. Do not bring any of your family members or friends to the site.
* All forthcoming social events, including the AGM, are cancelled for the time being
* To minimise the risk of infection to yourself and others, please use food handling or surgical gloves to open the gate, as this is the one thing we all touch.

The Committee is thinking about other measures to help. One immediate measure is to not collect this year’s annual contribution until later in the year.

The Council are aware that availability of water on site is variable at the moment. It has also confirmed that rent renewal notices will be sent out as usual.

In the meantime, please look after yourselves and others, and hopefully we can still reap a bounteous harvest this year. Our plots will never have had so much attention!

Kim Scrivener, Chair, BLAA Committee

The BLAA Committee has agreed to cancel the forthcoming annual quiz due to be held at Park Street Village Hall this Saturday, due to the Covid-19 situation. While we are sorry to have to do this, we feel it is the responsible thing to do. We will arrange a new date for the quiz in due course and will of course give you plenty of notice of when that will be.

If you have any concerns or queries about this, please contact kim.scrivener@gmail.com, BLAA Committee Chair.

Happy New Year!

And here’s to another year of growing great produce in spite of the elements and the pests!

Here is our Social Calendar for the year, following on from Barbara’s email:

  • Saturday 14 March – QUIZ. As in previous years this will be held in Park Street Village Hall and run by our esteemed Treasurer, Chris Feakes. Join us for our biggest fundraising event, bring your own nibbles and drinks – and get quizzing!
  • Sunday 5 April – Spring Brunch. Time to blow off those cobwebs and celebrate the start of the growing year. At the usual Sunday time of 11am.
  • Sunday 3 May – AGM at 11am, with refreshments and seedling sale/swap.
  • Sunday 2 August – Open Day from 11am-1pm. A chance for you to show off your plot and contribute to the produce sale. All welcome.
  • Sunday 1 November – Autumn Brunch and the last Sunday event of the year.

Look forward to seeing you – as ever, your support will be greatly appreciated.

Autumn news

Hi everyone

A good turnout at the recent Soup and Squash event on site, despite the kerfuffle about weather…  in the event the morning was sunny and people warmed up with Jan’s excellent soup (2 varieties). The winner of the biggest pumpkin was this little beauty, produced by Winston! Shown here with other excellent examples of the squash family.

In other news, we are going to have the last social even of the year tomorrow on site – fill your boots with bacon or sausage butties! And manure, which has now arrived (though you may not want to fill your boots with it obviously).

Barbara recently wrote to you recently about the rat problems some plot holders are experiencing. Unfortunately the Council is unable to help. The Committee recommends that you use non-toxic ways to repel the vermin. The use of rat poison is really not good for the other critters that live in our site. This problem does tend to vary with each year, so hopefully next year will be better!

Sustainable St Albans – Open Allotment this Sunday
For the third year running, we are taking part in the Sustainable St Albans Open Food Gardens event tomorrow, Sunday 4 August, from 11.00am to 1.00pm. Tea, coffee and cake will be available. It is a great opportunity to show off your plot to an admiring new audience!

You can also help us by offering produce for us to sell on a donation basis, proceeds to go to our funds. Please see any member of the Committee who will be on site from around 10am.

Finally, we are delighted to be able to offer honey for sale from one of our plot holders, Klaus, who has recently introduced two bee hives to the site. The honey has been made by bees foraging in our site and in nearby gardens, so you cannot get more local than that!

If you are planning to come to the site tomorrow, it would be great to see you. It should be a lovely event.