October Work Party

Finishing the job of improving the public footpath past our allotments.

Back in March 2018, we started some work on the path alongside the allotments (part of the Meanwood Valley Trail) to improve it for the local community. The work of installing our new fence (funded by the National Lottery) had left the path a bit muddy over the winter. We did a good job but we only got half way, so in October 2018, we went back to finish the job. Once again, Leeds City Council provided two loads of stone, and we asked our friends at Morgans City Living to come and help.
Morgans staff had done some voluntary work for us before on the allotment site, creating the lovely coppice area and making some compost bins, so we knew they were up for the challenge.

We cleared the path of layers of mud to reveal the original stone base and spread the new stone on top. After a chilly start, we all warmed up quickly with our Sunday morning work-out – no trip to the gym was needed that day! We also cut back the brambles and nettles, and now hope that the wider, tidier path will now be fit for the winter weather to come.

After a much needed lunch break, with fried egg butties, coffee and cake (thanks Rosie!), we resumed work, this time clearing an overgrown plot, so that it can be let to new allotmenteers. The original plot began to emerge, as we cut back trees and bushes to let the light in and wake up the baby frog having a Sunday afternoon snooze. Branches and twigs were hauled up to the back of the coppice where there is a wildlife haven. The Morgans team and the allotment volunteers enjoyed working together as a team, but I think we were all glad when time was called and we could go home to put up our feet and start thinking about doing it all again!

Apple Juicing Day

Converting our surplus apples into beautiful juice.

There was a time a few of us remember when there were practically no apple trees at Hollin Lane Allotments. Recently, more of us have planted them, and now we have to figure out what to do with all our surplus apples.

This year (2018) we tried a new approach – large scale juicing. We hired equipment from Leeds Urban Harvest and spent Saturday 6th October up to our elbows in apples and juice. Anyone with apples could come along and make their own juice, or just donate their surplus.

We had plenty of helpers, so we quickly developed an assembly line:

  1. Washing the apples and cutting out any bad bits.
  2. Scratting: putting them through a fierce machine to cut them up into pulp.
  3. Pressing out the juice from the pulp using a traditional hand press.
  4. Bottling the juice.

By the end of the day we had made about 70 or 80 liters of delicious juice. Most of this was for drinking fresh, but some is being made into cider. That will be very interesting…

Here are some photos from the day:


And a short video of the pressing:

Show 2018

Another fun Autumn Show

Our Autumn Show for 2018 was held on Sunday 9th September. There was a big turnout of volunteers to set up the gazebos and tables and to tidy it all away again. At one point one of the gazebo frames looked a bit like a confused maypole dance, but it all came together in the end.

Gazebo maypole dance

There were some really delicious refreshments (thanks to all our cooks!) and another thrilling snail race at the end of the day. Unclaimed exhibits went into the “hedge veg” box by the main gate, and quickly disappeared.

Results of the judging:

Overall points:

  1. Joe Foster       27
  2. Rosie Hall       25
  3. Peter Blakey  15

Best in Show: Peter Blakey’s red cabbage

Joe Maiden Cup: Jo Ann Eisenberg

Joe Maiden Cup:

Some of the winning exhibits were from newcomers – it wasn’t all just the usual old-timers.

Gillian did the judging in our usual informal Hollin Lane way, explaining what she was looking for in each class and giving useful tips about growing and showing things from her own long experience as a gardener and exhibitor.

Gillian judging the squash

Many thanks to everyone who helped make the day a success.

Lots more pictures in the Gallery.

March Work Party

We had a successful work party to finish tidying up the edges of the public footpath

We had a successful work party to finish tidying up the edges of the public footpath on Saturday, 17 March. We managed to fill all the puddles on our bit of the  Meanwood Valley trail with crushed stone which was kindly supplied by the Council’s Park and Countryside division.

There was plenty of  help, including several members of the public who had found about it.   We had our usual high standard of refreshments and jolly company!

New Gates

We have new secure main gates to match the fence, thanks to Leeds Wellbeing Fund from the Inner North West Community Committee.

After our new fence was installed along the bottom of our site there was still one big gap in our security: the old main gates. These were very solidly built, but only about five feet high and easy to climb or to pass stolen items over. Also, they were too narrow to allow large delivery lorries to come through. For these reasons we wanted to replace them with new gates which were taller, wider, strong, and like the new fence. Expensive!

We applied for grants, and Leeds City Council’s Wellbeing Fund from the Inner North West Community Committee awarded us a generous £1370. This was enough for a beautiful new gate from Airedale Fencing, the same firm that did our new fence.

Lottery Funded Fence

We have a new, secure fence along the bottom of our site, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.

Over the last few years we have suffered many break-ins on the allotments. Sometimes they are just about annoying vandalism, but things can get more serious: thefts of crops, tools, a greenhouse and a polytunnel, and even arson. This has a corrosive effect on people’s morale here. We have seen some allotment sites abandoned because of this problem, and only revived when security was improved.

Part of the problem is the old chestnut paling fence along the public footpath at the bottom of our site. It is only about four feet high, which makes it easy to vault or to pass stolen items over, and it is badly decayed, literally only held up by bushes in some places. Thieves were easily breaking through the rotting palings and stealing some quite large items. We have done what we could, repairing the damage and planting brambles as a deterrent, but this was no longer enough. We conducted a survey of plot holders’ feelings about our security, and about 85% of us felt a new fence would be helpful.

A good, high security fence along the whole bottom of our site was bound to be expensive, so we made a case to the Big Lottery Fund for help. Their generous gift of  £9,128 allowed us to select the best from several quotations, and the work was finished by Airedale Fencing just this Thursday, 26 Oct 2017. So, big thanks to the Big Lottery Fund!

Thanks also to our volunteers, and to Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside, who turned up to help clear the space for the new fence. 

Here are a couple of Before and After photos of the fence:







We will encourage the blackberries and sloes to grow through the fence to soften the look of it from the public footpath, as well as planting some spring bulbs and bee-friendly flowers along the base.

AGM 2017

Our Annual General Meeting this year is at the Meanwood Institute on Green Road on Tuesday 24 Oct. Start time is 7:00pm!

Our Annual General Meeting this year is at the Meanwood Institute on Green Road on Tuesday 24 Oct. Please note the earlier start time of 7:00pm!  The meeting will begin with a talk on “The Plight of the Bumblebee” by Dr Catherine Coombes. Our usual business meeting will follow with reports on 2017,  election of officers for 2018, and prizegiving.

Please try to come!

Plant Bring & Buy Sale 2017

We had our annual plant bring and buy sale on Sunday, 4 June and it was a huge success.

We had our 2017 plant bring and buy sale on Sunday, 4 June, in our car park area, and it was a great success in all ways.  The set-up at the beginning and putting-away at the end went very smoothly, with plenty of volunteers who worked together and got it all done really quickly.  There were huge crowds waiting to come in and buy stuff, many from outside the allotments (good publicity!).  Lots of people listened to “Compost John” give his famous talk on composting everything – yes, everything.  There were more really healthy looking plants on sale than I can ever remember.  The refreshments were delicious,  and finally, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously.  Oh, and we made over £450 towards our allotment funds.

Big  thanks to everyone who helped out in any way (lots of you!), or who just came along.  It was all great fun!

New Loo, Tool Store, Planters

Finally, after many years absence, we now have a loo at Hollin Lane Allotments!

Loo and Tool Store

Finally, after many years absence, we now have a loo at Hollin Lane Allotments! Thanks to the support of Tesco’s Bags of Help Community grant scheme, we have two new cabins on site, made from TPR® (Thermo Polymerised Rock), a synthetic concrete-like material that uses recycled waste products. One cabin contains a composting toilet and the other will be our new communal tool shed.  The loo is a Swedish-designed separating toilet which is used in the same way as any other toilet and there is also a separate urinal for the gentlemen of the allotment!  As both cabins have a key pad, all members of the allotment need to be given the code and shown the basics of how to use the facilities to keep the new loo working properly, so please contact any committee members to get this information. We also have a few Toilet Fairies, who have volunteered to keep the facilities clean and well looked after, so if you want to help out, let us know.


As part of the same grant from TESCO, and with the help of volunteers from Morgans City Living, we have also built 8 large planters, which allotment volunteers will be planting up this spring with herbs and other fruit and veg or flowering plants.

AGM 2016

Our Annual General Meeting was held on 25 October at the Meanwood Institute.

Our Annual General Meeting was held on 25 October at the Meanwood Institute.  For the full story, read the minutes.  Here is a summary.


The Chair reported that 2016 had been a good season for us, with some bumper crops.  The Committee were very active, meeting six times, writing grant applications, and organizing work parties.

We held an Extraordinary General Meeting on the 3rd of August to add a dissolution clause to our constitution as required by some of our grant applications. All of our rules are available online, and posted on our communal hut.

This year we held just one Plant B&B Sale, on 5th June, which was quite successful.  Our Autumn Show, on 4 September, was judged this year by John Maiden, Joe’s son.

As usual, a lot of essential work around the site was done by volunteers: grass cutting, hedge trimming and general tidying.  Work parties got together to sand and paint the hut, grub out a tree stump on a plot, clear weeds on the coppice plot (46T), and start to prepare the “senior” and “starter” plots.

The chair reminded us about the rises in rents we are required by Leeds Council to charge.  Here are the charges for a full plot:

  • 2014 and 2015:  £38.50
  • 2016:  £58
  • 2017:  £65
  • 2018:  £72

The amount of rent we are allowed to keep for our own use stays the same, while the Council’s share goes up each year.

Gillian North is retiring from the Committee after many years.  Many thanks to her.

The Trustees held plot inspections on 1 March, 21 April, 1 June, 18 July, 5 September, 20 October, looking at health and safety issues and standards of cultivation. There was one eviction, and several plots improved after warning letters were sent.

There were several break-ins this year, but not much was taken.  We were reminded to be sure to scramble the codes on the locks, and not to reveal them to outsiders.

Some of our paths are quite narrow, with dangerous drop offs at the edges.  Please try to keep the paths at least 80cm wide, so that wheelbarrows and lawn mowers can get along them.

The Treasurer presented the accounts for the year which showed us to be in good shape.  We bought more manure this year, but charging £1 per barrow means we break even.  Together, the B&B and Show raised £566.

The Secretary outlined three successful grant applications made this year:

  • £1000 from the Council, to be used on the toilet project
  • £8000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help Award, to used for the toiled and a secure tool storage for plot holders.
  • £1500 from St Chad’s fund to used to set up the Seniors’ plot.

Rosie explained about the Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners city wide allotment competition, which we are encouraged to participate in. Our member Ros Dunlevey came 6th in the city, winning a gold certificate, and Malcolm Slade and Jayne Harnett each got a bronze.  Ros also had two photos included in the LDAGF calendar for 2017.

Election of Officers

All the officers stand down each year. The following were elected for 2017:

  • Chair Joe Foster
  • Secretary Angie Willshaw
  • Treasurer Ness Clark
  • Committee R Hall, L Allen, J Ward, C Evans, J Tennant-Jackson, D Hood, M Davies, J Balfour, S Stones.

Rosie Hall agreed to manage plot letting again this year.


The plots and autumn show were judged by John Maiden of Cliff Bank Nursery this year.  Many thanks!

  • Best Plot
    • 1st  Ros Dunlevey
    • 2nd  Joe Foster
    • 3rd  Malcolm Slade
  • Best Newcomer’s Plot  Steve Monether
  • Overall Show Winner Rosie Hall
  • Best Exhibit in Show  Rosie Hall
  • Joe Maiden Cup Joe Foster (the Chair forgot!)

Many thanks to our generous sponsors for the prizes: The Three Horseshoes, Glendor DIY, The Secret Garden Cafe.


The coppice wood  on plot 46T was cleared and planted with saplings over the last couple of years.  More work is needed regularly to maintain it.  Later – a big team from Morgans City Living came on 19 November and did a huge amount of work clearing and sheeting down the whole site.

The composting toilet and communal toolshed were expected soon. This project has been made a reality by the hard work and dedication of Angie Willshaw and others. Later – the concrete base and main structures have been in place since January 2017, and are now (February)  just awaiting finishing touches.

The senior plots are planned for plot 10BL. The idea is to create a number of raised beds on an easily accessible part of the site for people who may not want to keep up a whole plot, but would like to carry on growing some vegetables and still be a part of the allotment community. More work is needed to get them ready.

The idea of starter plots is to have a number of beds set out for people on the waiting list who would like to have a go for a year before taking on a proper plot. Later – start has already been made on plot 1B.