This has been a very busy year. As well as the usual trading, administrative and consultative activities, we faced two extra major challenges:
The threat to plots at the Elfleda Road site
Implementation of Cambridge Allotments 2000 promotional campaign
Our AGM in January saw most officers re-elected. An exception is Chairman which post is now rotated amongst the societies.
Quarterly meetings have been held with meeting dates are set well in advance. Each has been preceded, a week in advance, by a postal mailshot containing agendas and information about some of the issues up for discussion. Each meeting has been followed up with draft minutes in the next mailshot along with NSALG newsletters as available and further news items, such as the recent consultative papers from the LGA. Meetings have generally been well attended although two societies are irregular attendees - the secretaries have tried to stay in touch by telephone in these cases. A pleasing development is interest from several plot holders at Council-run sites. These constitute 10% of the City's allotments yet have no plot-holder organisation.
promotion campaign - funded by a £5000 grant from Cambridge City Council's LA21
fund - has heightened awareness of allotments. The main tools were: leafleting;
constant activity on the Internet; a competition, and a total of 21 publicity
stalls during the year
The highest profile stall was at Strawberry Fair, Cambridge's major summer event. We used display boards (purchased using our grant) to promote allotment gardening and distribute information about organic growing. We co-operated over this with the local Organic Gardeners group, affiliated to the HDRA. The other stalls were held at Cambridge's Farmers Market, where a display board, local and national leaflets, magazines and booklets, and sales of fresh, surplus allotment produce have kept allotments at a much higher profile than for many years. The stall generates a steady trickle of plot enquiries.
website www.allotments.net generates an
ever-increasing number of enquiries. These comprise:
Individual plot enquiries (always followed up)
Requests for gardening advice (sometimes followed up)
for information/guidance from other allotment groups in the UK
last of these often includes questions which the NSALG is better qualified to
answer and these are referred to the national office. Sometimes one gets the
impression that groups are unaware of the NSALG until we provide the details. A
new association has been formed at Duxford (have they affiliated yet?) and we
hope that our networking will eventually assist the formation of new affiliated
associations at the following Cambridge sites: Grantchester and Empty Common
is worth emphasising that the growth of the Internet is revolutionising the way
we can communicate about our hobby. It empowers individuals with only a little
spare time to share news and ideas with great convenience, speed and accuracy.
This carries the parallel danger of creating a gulf between those who use the
Internet and those who don't. We have tried to bridge this, but frankly with
Cambridge Allotments News (distributed by email) has now reached issue #66 and
the subscriber list has grown to 205. These
include plot holders, local council officers and councillors, and other
interested people including allotment societies further afield. The newsletter
is an effective way of reaching allotment holders, for example an offer of
Vegetable Jotter booklets, free to local plot holders, was taken up by 12 of 205
subscribers (6%), who received their copy by post in December. The offer
credited the NSALG for supplying these free of charge.
ran a citywide Best Allotment Competition, also part of Cambridge Allotments
2000. 21 entrants shared £600 in prizes as well as free seed. Judges from
Gardeners' World, the Wildlife Trust, Unwins of Histon and Cambridge Sustainable
City all gave their services for freely and substantial coverage was obtained in
the local press. A report has been sent to the editor of the NSALG journal.
threat to 19 plots at the Elfleda Road site came to a head on January 12th when
the City Council's planning sub-committee debated Cambridge United FC's
application. It had always looked as though there would be a majority for the
application, as the ruling Labour group had supported it. However
representations to Councillors continued up to the day and our campaigning paid
off (see 1999 report for details) when the committee decided to defer the
decision, to allow more time for the parties to explore compromise.
had the effect of ensuring that CUFC respected allotment holders' viewpoint, and
led to a reduction of 25% in the allotment land claimed for the new stadium. We
continued to argue that no allotment land should be lost. Land to the west of
the current site (approx. 8 plots worth) was offered as partial replacement.
This land is waterlogged and unsuitable for cultivation. CUFC offered funding
for installation of drainage to correct this. Offers of further substantial
funding for site improvements, free advertising in programmes, a new site
noticeboard, and a free meeting room, were added. Regrettably a small number of
plot holders would still have to be relocated. Whitehill felt, given that the
drainage work should also improve drainage on approx. 7 existing plots which are
disused, this finally constituted a reasonable settlement leading to no overall
loss in usable allotments, and real improvements for the site. These have been designed between the City Council and
Whitehill AS. Both the CCCAS joint secretaries had both worked hard to help
Whitehill AS maintain a strong negotiating position throughout, which lead to a
result frankly better than any of us had dared to hope for.
Other issues dealt with include:
Ongoing consultation with City Council over site improvements costing £215000
Generating positive publicity about allotments using local radio and newspapers
Attended quarterly 'Allotment Forum' liaison meetings with City Council officers and councillors
Attended quarterly meetings of City Bio-diversity Group, maintaining contact with other environmental groups, especially in relation to habitat conservation and improvement
Rejuvenated proposal for funded post 'Allotment Support Officer' and helped City Council to draft a job specification (attached; now awaiting news of funding applications).
Trading activity co-ordinated by trading officers (Tony Chapman, Whitehill AS, & Alan Day, New Chesterton AS). This includes promotion of the seed scheme to all societies in Cambridge
Additional effort to promote the seed scheme and shop opening times to individual plot-holders, at non-society sites, with a few takers.
Designed and placed an Autumn 'plots to let' advertisement in local press, funded using market stall takings,
Continued project linking with a Malian market gardener community, including sharing of seed donated by Unwins between local plot holders and African growers.
Obtained funding for, and implemented with Romsey AS, a "Year of the Artist" project leading to natural sculpture installation and Open Day at Fairfax Road site, attracting 100 new visitors and much fun for plot holders
Received visit from Richard Wiltshire and Profs. Crouch and Azuma
Dave Fox/Paul Jones 28/12/00
Latest update 01/02/01