A report by Karina Wells on developments over the past few months.

Since October 2000, when we first met, we have seen the results of an amazing amount of work.

First of all we tackled allotment 2. The size of this allotment is 500 sq yrds, is surrounded by a hawthorn hedge and is divided up in two. On the right hand side we have an orchard with a fine collection of old fashioned apples, plums and pears. The left hand side was covered in couch grass, ground elder, dock, dandelion and brambles. In our first month we managed to dig all of the roots out and disposed of it at the tip. We seeded 3/4 of the area with rye and clover as a green manure for the next year or two. This is where the children can play to their heart's content. In the autumn half term, the children planted bulbs, which are now starting to show. These were mainly daffodils, but also some bluebells and tulips.

The old shed was dismantled and a fantastic new one was built by Mick. It gave us shelter, storage and a place to meet. This is also the place where our white board is situated, with the weekly tasks written on it and the diary in which we write what we have done that day. The system works very well and we have had, on average, 12 people come every week, even during the Christmas holidays, frost and snowy weather!

Allotment 3 was tackled next. This allotment too, is divided up in a right hand and left hand side. We covered the right hand side with pigeon manure and carpets. Subsequently, we started the lifting of couch, dandelion and bramble roots and made sure 99% was cleared in the left hand side. We then made 12 raised beds. All beds are 1.2 m wide and 7 m long. We incorporated chicken manure in some of them. The first three beds were planted up at the beginning of December with broadbeans, which were previously planted in November in the greenhouse by some of the children. We have 50 broadbeans per bed. A few weeks after planting them, we had severe frost. Now, thebeginning of March, we still have all the beans standing strong and beautiful.

At the beginning of March, the carpets are gradually being rolled back and we hope to dig over this side in the next few weeks in order to plant potatoes for the group. The majority of the potatoes are earlies so that they can be followed by brassicas. These should be ready for us to eat early next year.

All members of the group have been allocated 3 - 4 beds. They were all given a detailed plan of what vegetables are to be sown and when. It is then up to the individual to make sure this is done and to pay special attention to their beds. Having done that, they will spend the rest of their time looking after other peoples beds, watering, planting and tidying. All the proceeds from all the allotments though, are going to be shared among the group. This allotment is going to be worked by: Andy, Monika, Claire, Steve, Alison, Evelyn, Alex, Tanny, Graeme and Rob.

Allotment 1.

This allotment is slightly smaller, 400 sq yrds. It is situated about 70cm higher than the other allotments. This plot had not been worked for nearly 10 years so it needed quite a lot of clearing.

Many trips to the tip, and digging as for the other allotments. We made 7 raised beds, and an E-shaped bed fenced off by a low hurdle fence. The hurdles were made on a Saturday, when one of the members of the group organised a workshop. (see photos). We had great fun and the end result is magical. The hurdles were made from long bramble branches and the uprights from branches of the tree that had fallen down during the storm. All the other branches were used as peasticks, stepping "stones" and firewood. The E-shaped bed is going to be used for perennial vegetables and self seeders, 3 beds are going to be planted up by seeds from Poland, 2 beds with seeds from Ecuador and 2 with seeds from Holland. This allotment will be worked by Mary, Marta, Jola
and Karina. We made 3 compost bins and 3 storage bins, out of pallets to, encourage recycling.

Allotment 4.

This is a larger allotment 500 sq yrds, and has 6 very good apple, pear and plum trees planted on it. Andy Thomas planted some organic gooseberry and currant bushes. We moved 6 gooseberyy bushes from allot 2 to this allotment to get an allotment with mainly fruit. We dug out the raspberry canes, which will be replaced when we have more money. This allotment is plagued with bindweed. Although we had it covered with carpets for most of last year and this winter, it still is quite a task to clear fully. We started at the end of February with the clearing and making of bed 1. It took 6 man hours to do, a bit slow, but it had to be dug over 3 times to get all the roots out. And I bet next year we will still find them appear....

This allotment with have soft fruit as well as beans, peas, tomatoes, pumpkins and courgettes.
This will also be the allotment where most of the jauches will be made. Comfrey, nettle, borage and the stirring of the preparations. Linda wanted to be in charge of this. People working on this allotment are: Liz, Andy, Pat, Linda and Jeanne.

As you can see we have been busy.... And the busy season has not even started yet!

I have applied for a grant from Shell for a better Britain. If we get the funding the money would be used for: A heated "class" room, large enough to have a big farmhouse table which can seat 14 people (to be situated amongst the trees in allotment 1), a shed for tools and shelter in allotment 4, raspberry canes, strawberries, a fruitcage, a wheelbarrow and some tools for allotment 4.

Other news.

On friday February 23rd, 2001. We hit the headlines in the Nottingham Evening Post: Saluting the eco champs. Sharing a vision with neighbours. In it the group was given acknowledgement for their community spirit, and their contribution to a greener environment. Well done!

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