Dear allotment gardeners
“It is amazing what you can do, if you just have the courage to try”.
You may be wondering why I am writing this sentence at the beginning of this article at the start of this new year.
The national federations and the Office, i.e. the whole allotment movement, are facing great challenges, both internally and externally, in order to properly shape the future. The considerations have already started to respond to our new environment. Courage and farsightedness are necessary.
Internally, we must increasingly become a service organisation for our members. Our magazines should be modernised, wherever necessary. Not only information from our associations, but also examples of good practice from home and abroad, as well as subjects as for example ecological gardening, permaculture, climate change, water protection etc. should be dealt with. A reactive homepage, a good facebook site and the use of other social media will further carry our suggestions inward and outward. An optimal networking with other allotment organisations and the conclusion of strategic partnerships will support our efforts and help us to make us more visible.
Additionally, we have to train our associations and members and give them the necessary assistance in their garden and in the associative life: specialist gardening advice, seminars concerning the application for financial support, club management, accounting, conflict solutions etc. These are just a few examples of our commitment towards the individual allotment gardeners and associations.
Also externally, in a new environment, we have to position ourselves differently.
Today, the new forms of urban gardening are enormously praised by people and politicians and the allotments, part of this urban gardening, are often forgotten. Our many years of experience and our continuous contribution in the social and environmental areas are not sufficiently perceived. Other “green organisations” often try vocally and without any consideration to push us aside.
Furthermore, there is on one hand a lack of land to create more plots in urban areas, while on the other hand we find vacancies in rural areas.
In order to counteract this tendency we have to be better perceived. People, other organisations and authorities need to understand what we stand for, today and tomorrow. We have to underline our advantages, our services to society, our experience and know-how. We have to work out a vision for our movement, a vision that will enable us to make the movement, wherever necessary, more efficient, to promote and protect it. A pioneering spirit is needed.
The members have to understand what we do; they have to be taken on board. This vision, this common goal, must then unite the members and motivate them to work together with their boards for the development and the taking into consideration of our concerns.
We need progress: we have to innovate and to find solutions to the new challenges.
On the one hand, we have to reduce the plot size to shorten the waiting lists, to take into account the problem of lack of time of the working people and their lack of horticultural knowledge. On the other hand, we have to carry out projects on empty plots, involve partners and work out with the authorities, wherever necessary, an allotment development scheme and find solutions acceptable for all …….
In these reflexions and actions we can/must consider the statement of Bill BRADLEY: “Ambition is the way to success, perseverance is the necessary instrument”.
I wish you good health for 2019 as well as courage, ambition, pioneering spirit, optimism and perseverance, in order to consolidate and develop our movement.
Secretary General of the International Office du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux
Recommendation of the Conference of INGOs* of the Council of Europe
for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) to be held in Katowice, Poland, from 3 to 14 December 2018
Alarmed by the violence, the diversity and impact of climatic disturbances, which are becoming more intense and more widespread;
Alarmed by the conclusions of the last report of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change, adopted on 8 October 2018 by the delegations of State Parties in Incheon (South Korea), which makes the future of the planet more dependent than ever on decisions related to human activity, and by the absolute silence of political leaders regarding this report;
Concerned by the inability of the signatory States to the Paris Agreement (2015) to implement their commitment to maintain or reduce their own GHG emissions in order to achieve the overall target of +2°, which is reduced again today;
Being aware of the difficulties of the drafting and future implementation of the Rule Book of the above Agreement by numerous signatory states with their very diverse levels of political, economic and social development as well as a very uneven level of awareness and regulation of human rights;
Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, whose 70th anniversary will coincide with COP24;
Considering the specific reference to human rights in the Stockholm (1972) and Rio (1992 and 2012) Earth Summits ;
Considering that the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change adopted in Rio in 1992 stipulates that "The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities";
Recalling that the Millennium Development Goals state that those concerning health and environmental protection can be achieved while guaranteeing human rights; that the development goals 13-16 are focussed on environment and climate questions and that the COP23 decision 3 recommends an equal representation of women and men on all levels of decision making and of the fight against climate change ;
Considering the principles and values promoted by the Council of Europe, through its founding text, the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), but also through the European Social Charter (1996), the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979) and the European Landscape Convention (2000);
Considering the Recommendation CM/Rec(2002)1 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent;
Recalling the Recommendation 1885(2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the drafting of an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right to a healthy environment;
Appreciating that public access to information and justice and public participation in decision-making, recognised in principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development as essential human rights, have been formalised in the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention, 1998);
Considering the Guidelines CM(2017)83 on civil participation in political decision-making of 27 September 2017 and Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)4 of 21 March 2018 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on citizens' participation in public life at local level;
Supporting the statement of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment of 8 October 2018 at the date of the publication of the latest IPCC report that: "Climate change is considered to be one of the greatest threats to human rights... It has and will have devastating effects on a wide range of human rights, including the right to life, health, food, housing and water, as well as the right to a healthy environment.";
Considering the above-mentioned report, which recalls the absolute urgency of respecting the Paris Agreements to keep the increase in global temperature below 1.5°;
The NGOs with participatory status with the Council of Europe:
- affirm the utmost importance of placing climate change at the top of the agenda in order to ensure the future of humanity and the planet;
- are convinced that the necessary and urgent solutions can only be found by involving the whole of civil society at all levels of mobilisation and decision-making;
- demand that international negotiations go beyond the strict context of greenhouse gas reductions and include the protection of the fundamental rights of all human beings, taking into account the impact of all phenomena related to climate change on the enjoyment of these rights;
- demand that respect for the right to life, dignity and mobility include the establishment of international rules that require States and regional institutions such as the EU, regional and local authorities to take immediate consideration of:
o the threat to habitats, water and food resources from extreme weather events and slow degradation of soils and subsoils;
o regular assessment of natural and industrial risks aggravated by climate change;
o prevention of political and social conflicts related to the resulting sharing of resources;
o admission of populations driven out of their territory by rising water levels, the scarcity of vital goods or the deprivation of essential services;
o compensation of populations deprived of their property, aid or assistance to these populations;
o consideration for the poorest and most vulnerable populations, being potentially the most exposed;
- recommend that States and regional institutions put in place effective and fair regulatory measures accompanied by financial incentives to achieve the goals set out in the above-mentioned texts.
*(INGO ... Conference gathering 307 international NGOs having participatory status with the Council of 'Europe)
FIVE ALLOTMENT ASSOCIATIONS WERE REWARDED AT THE OCCASION OF THE STUDY SESSION IN KORTRIJK.
1) THE DIPLOMA FOR INNOVATIVE PROJECTS WAS AWARDED TO:
1) The Swinbrook Road Allotments to the North of Carterton (GB)
The Allotment site has 45 full plots on a 1.22 hectare site to the North of Carterton on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The aim of their projects is to improve the soil and working conditions for all the allotment plot holders on Swinbrook Road Allotments and to increase the popularity of the allotments in the local community.
They have improved the site facilities using several innovative techniques, such as reusing materials which would have otherwise gone to landfill or burnt.
One can mention among others:
It is felt that the plot holders on this site have used great initiative in acquiring the above materials their imaginative and 'innovative activities' have greatly improved the facilities of the site not only to the benefit of their members but also their local community. In the process of doing the above have also minimised air pollution, landfill requirements, smoke pollution from burning treated timber and reduced the need for many road miles resulting in benefits to the wider community.
II) THE DIPLOMA FOR ECOLOGICAL GARDENING WAS AWARDED TO:
1) De Roshaag in Peer (B)
De Roshaag is a young and small project, with 17 gardens and one show/demo garden, an example for all ecological parks in Flanders. In 2017 the project was rewarded the Ecological garden label with the highest possible score.
Together with the city council they are working on the area surrounding the gardens to make the park more attractive, nature friendly and welcoming for the neighbourhood.
There is a composting space where the entire city can learn how to compost. There are regular demonstrations and all kinds of different composting methods tested.
For insects, birds and hedgehogs there is much place to crawl, feed and sleep in and around this park. There are dead hedges made of pruning materials, ideal for insects and hedgehogs. Multiple insect-hotels for wild bees and others, a herb garden and several wild flowerbeds to feed and hibernate in.
There are areas next to the gardens which contain wild vegetation. In these areas special attention went to the different layers: the canapé, shrubs and the undergrowth. They tried to mimic a real forest.
They are working with a beekeeper to produce local honey on the spot.
No pesticides are used in the park. Workshops and demonstrations are given to advice alternatives. In the show garden they experiment with new techniques and different plant species.
All gardeners share a common shed with a composting toilet. This reduces the space needed for individual sheds. On top there is a green roof and a small solar panel for the light and toilet. All remaining water is used to water the gardens in dry periods.
There are a few manual water pumps spread throughout the project as well.
Workshops and presentations are given for the gardeners, neighbourhood, schools and all other people that are interested.
100 % of the allotment gardeners take part in the ecological gardening.
2) The association De Hoge Weide in Utrecht (NL)
The Amateur Gardeners' Association De Hoge Weide is located in Park Groenewald in Papendorp in the polder of Utrecht since 2003. The park-like design, the combination with the office villas and the public character of the garden site are unique in the Netherlands. In 2010 the association started the project natural gardening. In 2017, they received four dots for the natural management of the park.
The members of the association do on a regular bases general work in the park and the theme gardens in which natural gardening has become commonplace. Therefore De Hoge Weide can proudly report that about 90% of members in their own maintain their garden in a natural way.
Four of the five theme gardens on De Hoge Weide are laid out to promote the diversity of flora and fauna.
The project: "The Nursery" with its own garden for the pre-cultivation of plants provides members with information about sowing and growing plants. The result is planted along the banks. A new project with early spring bloomers is currently under development. The association also started a project concerning renewable energy.
MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE
The maintenance of the park is organised by the working group: "Natural Management". According to a schedule, work is carried out and activities are organised for members and visitors. The working group also identifies problems in individual gardens.
On a regular basis workshops are organised where knowledge of members is shared with other members.
The workshop: Help, I have a garden! provides new members with an introduction to natural gardening and helps them on their way in their new garden.
The signposts and information boards lead visitors through the garden site. The large information boards in the theme gardens have an educational value. A map with a walking route is available for visitors. A large part of the visitors work in the offices in and around the park.
3) The garden site De Groote Braak in Amsterdam (NL)
About 6 years ago, Garden Site de Groote Braak introduced natural gardening. It started with an inspection by the AVVN and an advice for the next few years. The Committee on Nature and Environment was installed and slowly a shift was made on the garden site. In addition to more traditional gardening, parts of the park were maintained in a natural way. The last 2 years were given an extra boost with the support of an advisor to the AVVN. This resulted in the obtaining of the National Quality Mark Natural Gardening with the maximum of 4 dots on the ladybug.
REUSE OF RAW MATERIALS
Finely chopped materials
Pruning wood is shredded and reused. Chopped materials are used in the public green parts of the garden site and by gardeners in the private gardens.
Garden waste from the public green of the garden site and the individual gardens is also composted. At the moment the compost is only used for the public parts, soon we hope to have plenty that also gardeners can benefit and use it on their gardens. In addition, we motivate the gardeners to compost on their gardens.
Glass, paper, grease, household waste and plastic are collected separately and this can be recycled again.
Butterfly garden, insect hotel, bee hive, "Stobbenwal", Hedgehog castle In several places, small insect boxes are made. There is a stobbenwal (rows of branches and stumps deposited for animals) for soil organisms and the 1st bee hive is populated. In order to provide good food supplies, a butterfly garden has been laid out with several banks of wild flowers.
Toad pool and nature friendly banks, floating islands.
Besides a place for amphibians, birds such as ducks have found a place to stay. An educational trail along the toad-pool was laid out.
BEDS, HERB GARDEN AND LANES
Recently, De Groote Braak started a herb garden. Garden members can pick these herbs for their own use.
Two years ago the garden site started the phased mowing, since then this has been expanded. The aim of this way of mowing is to create an as large as possible diversity of plants and animals.
The shop is only sells nature-friendly garden products and cleaning agents.
HIKING TRAILS AND INFORMATION SIGNS
There is a circular walk on the park that runs along the special places in the park. In these places, information signs are placed with explanations.
Via the garden newspaper, website, newsletters, workshops, information signs, guided tours and additional explanations to new gardeners, all gardeners are informed about natural gardening.
4) Garden site Wijkergouw in Amsterdam (NL)
After a 2-year project, the garden site acquired the National Quality Mark Natural Gardening, with the maximum score of 4 dots. An estimated 75% of gardeners participate in natural gardening. On a regular basis the members alternately organise debates and practical lectures concerning the ecological practices.
INDIGENOUS FLORA AND FAUNA
The Water land north of the IJ, on the old promenade near Schellingwoude, existed an impenetrable wildernesses until the 11th century. Garden site Wijkergouw was built in 1962 for and by city dwellers. The changing time spirit is visible in the gardens; Special nature-friendly projects are side by side with more traditional garden designs.
Good water management ensures dry feet in this area. Gardeners work together with neighbours and government (Water Authority) to help with dredging and maintain banks.
FAUNA, MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONALLY VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
The gardeners strive to secure migration opportunities for internationally vulnerable populations with guide species such as the ring snake, the Nordic vole mouse and the otter.
INSECTS, BIRDS AND BATS
The beekeeper association, local residents and gardeners have together set up a separate terrain as a bee-park with melliferous plant and honey bees. Scattered around the park live bats in special nest boxes. There is a bird boulevard with housing for all kinds of birds. Birdwatchers track observations and count among other things protected birds such as blue heron, swifts, Kingfisher, eared Owl and Sparrow hawk.
COMPOSTING, WATER AND SOIL LIVE
In the ' Composting forest' garden waste is recycled, besides composting on one's own garden. Members bring garden waste and collect soil, wood is shredded. There is a place for the exchange of plants: free to bring or take.
The playground is available for different ages with a water pump and a water course, playhouse, climbing frame, swings and slide.
CLUBHOUSE, SHOP AND LITTLE TERRAIN
The farm Arbeid Adelt serves as a clubhouse and 'nerve center' for the gardeners. A few years ago an authentic farmhouse garden and a herbal corner were built. The gardeners meet there, enjoy healthy lunch from their own garden and attend lectures and workshops.
COMMUNICATION, COOPERATION AND CO-USE
A signposted hiking trail over Wijkergouw and 5 neighbouring garden sites is open to the public during the season.
More ideas await realisation, such as: establishing a common greenhouse for growing plants and vegetables, rent out square meter trays to interested parties, setting up a circulation centre for swap objects, building a learning path for children.