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The Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux and the affiliated federations call upon all allotment gardeners to take part in the Week without pesticides organized from 20th till 30th March 2017

pestizideIn the beginning pesticides looked to be like a blessing from heaven. They had the ability to kill unwanted, dangerous and irritating insects. And with simple devices they could be sprayed on or being blown to places, plants, objects or bodies where this seemed to be useful.

After the Second World War DDT did a magnificent job and soon it became very popular. In every grocery store it was available so not only professional agriculture, but nearly every household used it for getting rid of unwanted insects.

After some time it became clear that there were unwanted side effects. It not only effectively killed damage giving insects but useful insects as well. And even worse its remains were spread in nature and finally it became stored in the bodies of animals, doing its killing or damaging work more effectively than anybody had envisioned.

The manufacturer came twice with first a second and thereafter with a third generation product: deldrin and aldrin. These should not have the unwanted side effects of DDT. In reality they were even worse.

With her book "Silent Spring" Rachel Carson showed the world the devastating effects of the large scale use of these products.

Some forerunners banned their use, but the industry continued bringing new products to the market, always suggesting that safe use was possible. The world has seen the effects on humans of the lavishly use of "Agent Orange" in the Vietnam War. Several components of this product have been used by local governments and agriculture, even when they were not allowed by the Food and Drugs administration in the USA.

This sad story continues. Every time again the industry introduces new products, claiming their use is safe and does not have unwanted side effects.

There are strong indications that a widely available herbicide can give damage to our bodies. Other wide spread products not only seem to kill useful honeybees but also as useful wild bees, wasps and flies.

So these are all reasons to participate in the week against pesticides and make people aware of the danger in order to diminish the use of and in many cases introduce a ban on the use of these far from innocent pesticides. You don't need to wait until National or European governmental organisations finally take responsibility.

You can take responsibility yourself. Save the honeybees, prevent chemicals from hidden long term killing and poisoning of living, interesting, beautiful and valuable creatures.

Therefore not only participate in the week of pesticides, but make an end to their unwanted application. Use organic fertilizers such as compost, apply crop rotation, use companion plants etc

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Leeds Allotment Training Event on February 2nd 2017 a huge success

GBWhat a line up, what a day. Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners Federation (LDAGF) in conjunction with Leeds City Council Nursery had pulled out all the stops at this event. The primary aim was to encourage more self-management but in addition to offer information and help for the managers of existing associations, with added interest through talks on growing and composting. There were also stands from other growing and funding organisations and lots of information from our own National Allotment Society. The event was open to all allotments in Leeds and Districts.

The day started with an introduction by Paul Lattimer, LDAGF, chairman.

Then Paul Ackroyd the nursery manager gave an interesting talk explaining that the huge nursery complex was moving lock, stock and barrel to a new site to make way for a new road and housing development. He went on to explain that the new greenhouses were that hi-tec they could be operated remotely. This was followed by the first two workshop sessions which were run by some very prominent people. Delegates were to choose three of the four workshops being offered.

1. Role and responsibilities of Trustee's by our own Liz Bunting, National Allotment Society.
2. Getting the best from your allotment by David Allison, National Vegetable Society.
3. The need for Insurance by Paul Lattimer, Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners Federation.
4. Composting by John Cossham, Master Composter.

GBA superb lunch was organised by Judy Turley and Gill Walsh, LDAGF, Secretary and Treasurer respectively with drinks served by Lynn Rogers, LCC Allotment Officer.

A further workshop session was held after lunch.

There followed a short talk by Dr Jill Edmondson, Sheffield University explaining the details of an interesting and exciting research project MyHarvest. (There will be more about this project later).

There was even more to follow in this action packed day, Graham Porter, Chartered Institute of Horticulture, broadcaster and author gave an interesting talk on 'The past, present and future of food production'.

The afternoon finally finished with a summary by Cllr Stewart Golton, LDAGF, vice-chairman who thanked every-one for coming and making it such a great success.

Wow! What a day! What an event!
Comments from delegates 'can't wait for the next one'.

The International Office du Coin de Terre et des Jardins familiaux delegates met in Luxembourg

On March 3rd and 4th 2017 the national delegates met in Luxembourg for their annual statutory general assembly.

With great pleasure they acknowledged that the Luxembourgish minister for environment protection had granted a substantial financial support for the publication of the Office brochure: "Allotments – discover nature with children" and thank her very much.

They also thank the firm Mayerhofer and especially Friedrich Hauk for the important financial support for the publication of the brochure.

Five demands for diplomas were submitted. The diplomas will be granted at the occasion of the international study session in Copenhagen. The receiving of a diploma is a great recognition for the association's efforts and is additionally a great means for lobbying.

It was also decided to grant the diploma for an ecological gardening to the allotment association "am Kienberg" (Germany). The diploma will be given to the association in Berlin on 20th May 2017 at the occasion of the Day of the Garden.

Besides the statutory tasks, the report and discussions on positive or negative national events, the delegates discussed intensively the subject: "Allotment gardens and Community gardens", as well as "the future of the allotment movement".

The elaboration of guidelines for gardening advice will be continued in a working group.

It was decided to optimize the forum for gardening advisers in order to guarantee its success. Therefore the access to a greater number of interest people should be made possible.

Since 4th March 2017 the Office appears on Facebook in order to be more and better visible.

OI2017During the statutory meeting the members of the executive board for the next four years were elected. Daniel CAZANOVE (F), Otmar HOFFMANN (L), Preben JACOBSEN (DK), Peter PASCHKE (D) and Wilhelm WOHATSCHEK (A).

During the first executive board meeting following this election Wilhelm WOHATSCHEK was once more elected as president.

The delegates will meet again in Copenhagen on coming 24th August during their study session.

The next statutory general assembly will take place in Luxembourg on February 23rd and 24th February 2018.

We care for the future: Exchange of plants (Pyrénées orientales), France

For more than 10 years we have been organising plant exchanges in the region of the "Pyrénées orientales". If I say "we", I refer to my allotment garden friends who above all like to collect ornamental plants and who wanted to share their passion or simply their interest for the garden or this or that plant family. And this is why we started our first exchanges.

fr2016These exchanges are mostly organised in spring, even if this is not the best period to replant Mediterranean plants. However, the exchanges provoke an increasing interest and we have now added a fourth meeting to our yearly calendar. So the first Sunday in May we have our annual meeting in Albère, a small commune on the Spanish border and our South Catalan garden friends join in too.

The principle is very easy and was rapidly understood by all. As we know that there will be plant exchanges, we prepare our shoots in autumn or at any other occasion when we work in our garden. Mostly the cuttings of plants give us the greatest part for the exchanges, without forgetting the seedlings and the off-shoots which we prefer. We also exchange bulbs and, but less commonly seeds because they are exchanged all year long, now even by certain libraries. It is possible to exchange everything and we exchange above all cultivation advice, how to associate plants, experiences, addresses...
The botanical encyclopaedia as well as reference books are at our disposal to find complicated names and plant families.

The kitchen garden is also represented, above all by ancient varieties of tomatoes, salads, cabbage, strawberries and there are as well cacti, irises, fig trees, aromatic plants...

This activity will also be continued in 2017. An important event will take place in Paulilles on March 26th 2017 during the Week against pesticides.

Maryse Fraudet,
Co-ambassador of the French allotment garden federation (Pyrénée orientales)

We care for the future: The National Garden Experiment in the Netherlands

In September 2016, AVVN launched a new project entitled the National Garden Experiment (Nationale Proeftuin). The project involves a non-commercial, generally accessible seed exchange, on the website , via which garden enthusiasts can offer and obtain plant seeds, free of charge. Via the National Garden Experiment, we aim to help promote biodiversity in gardens.

Biodiversity ensures a healthy natural system and allotment gardeners are the ideal partners to strengthen biodiversity by exchanging seeds. Promoting biodiversity is essential in the face of the decline in genetic plant variety. Due to large-scale agriculture and the food processing industry, more than 90% of calorie intake today is provided by just 30 crops. Variation between crop varieties is also declining. Nonetheless, it is essential that traditional diversity be maintained. We should give nature more space to develop, by preserving and extending our green heritage. Via the National Garden Experiment, we can inspire garden enthusiasts to experiment. It doesn't take much; even a flower tray is enough.

For this digital marketplace, we developed a new website which is fully open to the public; in addition to allotment gardeners, anyone with a front garden, back garden or balcony can join in.

There are a number of rules of play. Seeds must not be sold via the website; only exchanged or given away. Seeds must all originate from the participant's own crop or own garden. To prevent the undesirable spread of diseases, only healthy material must be offered.

Anyone offering seeds or plant material simply places their own advertisement on the website. We encourage them to also give tips on the plant's needs such as location and soil, and the plant's characteristics such as colour, height and flowering season. Information about the added natural value of the plant, for example whether it attracts butterflies or bees, is also useful.

Anyone visiting the site and interested in a particular seed simply sends an envelope containing a stamped and addressed reply envelope to the provider, stating the seeds they wish to receive. By bringing supply and demand together in this way, we hope to boost the vitality of nature in the Netherlands and make the world an even prettier place.

To be followed

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