What 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.
A 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'.
Wow! 'Best Show Garden' achieved by Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners Federation .
Earlier this year the LDAGF were judged along with other Horticultural Societies and Associations and were awarded a 'Premier Gold' certificate for the allotment garden they created at the 'Harrogate Spring Flower Show', quite an achievement in itself. The team however went on to apply to the Great Yorkshire Show to enter an allotment garden as a 'Show Garden'.
This was a completely new venture as the Federation have never entered in this category before or created an allotment garden outdoors with all the problems of weather, wildlife and bugs.
Having submitted a last minute brief and sketch the fun began. The changes which would have to be made to create a show garden were discussed and designed to incorporate many useful innovations; innovations which can easily and very cheaply be created and also possibly be adapted, to aid the growing of fruit and vegetables and but still maintain features suitable to comply with the criteria for a show garden.
We have been very lucky to have the use of part of a large unheated greenhouse at Leeds City Council, Red Hall Nurseries but even this became too hot for the plants in June and also a pesky young magpie kept nipping off our new shoots. So, an additional large netted growing area had to be created on an extremely wet day; we got soaked. Many of the plants from the earlier show got beyond their best and many more had to be grow (all our plants are home grown) in fact most of the stands fabric is reused materials.
The team started creating the new features of the allotment show garden which was mostly ready a week before the show. Just as well because we started building the allotment garden on a Wednesday almost a week before the show.
A large van was hired to ship the plants to the showground on the Friday as most volunteers were only available to help at the weekend.
From this point on, the stand had to be totally netted every night to keep the rabbits out. By Monday the allotment garden was mostly complete, there was just the information aspect of the garden in two integral gazebos' (which completed a circular tour around the garden) and a few fiddley bits to finish.
Tuesday morning arrived and show gardens had to be ready for judging for 7am and for a 7.30am opening to the public, which meant a 5.30am start each day of the show, yawn!!!.
Bacon butties all round whilst waiting for the judges, and finally they arrived. You can't stand close by when the garden is being judged, you strain your eyes and ears trying to see the judges expressions and a snippet of the odd word. No such luck and off they went.
A little later a show official arrived and presented us with a 'Gold Medal' certificate, what a feeling of pride and elation overcomes you but as he left he said quietly I want someone at the show stage at 10.45 sharp for another surprise. What would it be? Three of the team went to see.
It turned out to be a wonderful surprise, a huge silver rose bowl and a 'Champions' certificate for the best 'Show Garden' what an achievement for a voluntary organisation at the huge and prestigious 'Great Yorkshire Show' and presented by none other than Carol Klein. It almost brought tears to my eyes and I nearly threw my bowler in the air.
A wonderful show followed with lots and lots of compliments and many visitors left the garden to implement the innovations seen on our allotment garden.
A proud team and a very proud Publicity Officer, Phil Gomersall.
"Growing Together" National Allotments Week, 8-14 August 2016
Our "Growing Together "theme for National Allotments Week 2016 draws attention to the inclusive nature of allotment gardening, appealing to all sections of society from the unemployed to the professional, all races and religions and all levels of ability. Allotments may offer individuals the opportunity to manage a plot of their own and grow their own food but they also host projects that range across many areas e.g. adapted plots for people with disabilities, educational visits from schoolchildren, therapeutic growing opportunities for the bereaved, refugees, those with mental health issues and gardening on prescription. During National Allotments Week the Society is encouraging allotment associations across the UK to hold events during the week to welcome the wider community into their sites to see for themselves; events have been advertised on the Society website over the last months.
Our members support many initiatives, Hazel Grove Allotments have created an area suitable for people with restricted mobility; Newdigate Allotments in Bedworth welcome children from the local school who help out with their sensory garden and have met up with the resident beekeeper; another member in Porthcawl shares his plot with a group of people with a learning disability and helps them to cook the produce that they have grown and the internationally renowned People's Community Garden* in Ipswich, which provides opportunity for all with food and leisure gardening, training courses and community events. Often situated in built up urban areas allotment sites contribute a significant amount to the health and well-being of communities and sites in rural areas are often important community hubs.
There is a general acknowledgment and rafts of academic studies that examine and highlight the importance of access to green space and gardening opportunities for everyone. However pressures to build houses, create jobs or make a profit often seem to compromise decision makers and allotment land along with other important green space is slowly being eroded and budgets being cut. A recent report commissioned by the National Garden Scheme from the Kings Fund "Gardens and Health"** calls for more joined up strategic thinking between government departments responsible for health, the environment, planning and local government in order to exploit the potential of all forms of gardening to support their priorities.
Karen Kenny, the National Allotment Society President, would like to invite you to visit an event during National Allotment Week and experience the joy of allotments for yourselves.
"We are proud of the Allotment Movement in Britain and its continued success in offering opportunities for families to provide for themselves, whilst also being a valuable resource to diverse groups of people. Social inclusion is an important part of allotment life and there are many projects for those with both physical and mental disabilities, as well as projects which target the socially disadvantaged. We also see whole families from toddler right up to and including Granny and Granddad enjoying working together on their plots."
The NAS aims to protect, promote and preserve allotments and we call on all those who value allotments to support us in this endeavour, we can all do our part-
• Allotment associations: protect your site, register as a community asset. Allotment Federations: keep allotments in the public eye, make sure they are mentioned in the Local Plan and lobby your councillors and MPs.
• Councils preserve and value your allotment service: it has the potential to deliver some of your public health targets.
• Plot-holders: join the National Allotment Society and support your regional allotment network to promote the allotment movement.
• Aspiring plot-holders: do not be put off by the thought of a long wait – sign up for a plot now; without waiting lists allotment authorities cannot assess demand.
Check out www.nsalg.org.uk for details of NAW events near you and more details about collective action to protect our plots.