AGM 2018

Our Annual General Meeting was held on 30 October at the Meanwood Institute.

Our 2018 Annual General Meeting was held on 30 October at the Meanwood Institute.  For the official record, read the minutes.  Here is a (rather long) summary.

Chair’s Report

The 2018 growing year brought us a cold, wet spring followed by a warm, dry summer, with some spectacular harvests of fruit and other crops. This year we discovered that chili powder is a good repellent for rats and squirrels on our sweet corn. Thanks to Ros Dunlevey for this tip.

The Committee met seven times this year, discussing the usual allotment business, and also organized a number of other events.

We are very grateful to Angie Willshaw, who is stepping down after four very active years as our Secretary. She has been the main driver in all of our successful projects during her time, including the new fence and gates, the communal toilet and tool shed, the senior plots, and much more, even including improvements to the public footpath along the bottom of our site.

Many thanks to John Balfour, Jenny Tennant-Jackson and Sandra and John Olive, who are also stepping down after giving generously of their time and efforts.

Our events this year included

  • A plant bring and buy sale on 3rd June, which featured lots of beautiful vegetable seedlings and plants raised by our members, and open to all.
  • Our autumn show on 9th September, also open to all.
  • An open day on 18th August, during National Allotment Week.
  • An apple juicing day on 6th October, when we hired equipment from Leeds Urban Harvest and members brought along their own apples for juicing.
  • Several work parties which also involved members of the public and volunteers from Morgans City Living. We improved the public footpath, tidied up the site, cleared an overgrown plot, and more.

Volunteers do a lot of important day by day work around the allotments: cutting grass, maintaining the hedges, looking after the composting toilet, letting out plots, collecting rents, and all the other jobs that need doing just to keep the allotments running.

Trustees’ Report

The Trustees do three plot inspections each year on about 1st of March, June and September, with three follow up inspections six weeks after. The committee meets each time to decide what to do about any problem plots.

This year there were seven evictions. This is our least favorite job of all, but a necessary one. Several plot holders received warnings, and managed to improve their plots.

Security was not too bad this year. There was no vandalism, but we had several instances of sheds broken into and property stolen. On the last occasion we could not see any evidence of entry around the boundary of the site, so it looks like someone had the code for the locks. This can happen if the lock is left without scrambling the numbers. Whenever this happens we have to change the code on the locks, and then tell all the members the new code.

Please keep the code secret!

Paths should be kept clear, and ideally at least 80cm wide to allow for safe passage of people, mowers and wheelbarrows.

Treasurer’s Report

Ness talked us through the accounts for 2018, which showed us to be in good shape financially, with over £8K in the bank. Our takings from the plant B&B sale and show together were over £900, the best we have managed so far. She gave us a helpful explanation of how our balance seems to shift from year to year, due to the times of the accounts overlapping with rents coming in. This should be less of a problem in future.

Ness has managed to find a new Treasurer for 2019, so she can step down for a well deserved break. Big thanks to her for doing this important job so ably since 2013.

Amendment to Constitution

We added a bit to Section 5 of our constitution to create a new post of Letting Officer.

Election of Officers and Committee

All officers and committee members stand down each year, but are eligible for re-election. Officers and Committee were elected for 2019 as follows:

2019 Officers

PostNamePlot
ChairJoe Foster30 + 31B
Hon. SecretarySue Stones9TL
Hon. TreasurerStephan Petzold26B + 26TR
Hon. Letting OfficerRosie Hall12B + 23B

2019 Committee

NamePlot
Ness Clarke20T
Mary Davies10BR
Glen Drury6T
Tom + Trina Evans-Cheung20BL
Chris Foren26TL + 32BL
Jayne Harnett15BL

Prize Giving

Best plots were judged by Brian Jenner of Hayley’s Field Allotments on 20 July. This year there were categories for full, half and quarter plots, as well as best newcomer.

Best Plots 2018

Best PlotNamePlot
Full PlotJoe Foster30
Half PlotMalcolm Slade8R
Quarter PlotHarriet Gardiner4BL
NewcomerLeonard Cummings31TL

Malcolm Slade’s plot was the best overall, so he will hold the shield again this year.

The Autumn Show, on 9 September was judged by Gillian North.

Show 2018

AwardName
Best in ShowPeter Blakey (red cabbage)
Overall WinnerJoe Foster
Joe Maiden PrizeJo Ann Eisenberg

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.

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.

Planters

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.