As we approach Christmas and the end of another year that has flown by, I thought I would take this opportunity to give you a brief update of the year from the point of view of the Committee.
It has been a year of change for NADCAA, several long standing committee members stepped down at the AGM and as a result we have a new Company Secretary, Steve Garlick. He has wasted no time getting stuck into some areas where we needed to improve our operation. We also have a new Treasurer, Anna Taylor, she has done a fantastic job dealing with Santander (she deserves a medal!) and getting on line Tenancy Payments up and running, something that members voted for at the AGM. A new post of Administrator was created specifically to cover the new Colony Enterprise Management System, and Liz Colston has worked wonders knocking the Committee into shape and ensuring we utilise the system to its full (and seriously impressive) capacity. She has also helped us through the minefield that is GDPR (Data Protection) legislation, which has been an administrative nightmare but which we must comply with. In short it has been a busy year for all involved in running the Association, my personal thanks to everyone on the Committee for the work done over the past year.
After quite some time we have had renewed contact with Neil Dixon, the National Allotment Society Rep. for the South West. It is possible, that if I can find the time, I may start to help him out next year and cover the South of Devon. He currently covers an area stretching from Land’s End up to Bristol, and across to Bournemouth, which clearly involves an enormous amount of travelling, and he intends to step down in a couple of years. He would like to divide the region into counties, and to establish a Rep and a deputy covering the north and south of each county.
There was a big shock this year when Mr Rew increased his rent for Blake’s and Cooke’s Fields from £400 to £800, which is double the rent we pay for all the other fields combined. He maintains that he doesn’t intend to sell the fields, but is he trying to price us off? Only he knows the answer to that question.
On Bradley Field the actions of one local resident (not one of our members) resulted in the neighbouring stream being diverted ever so slightly and the bank eroded as a result. The committee after much work over a couple of years was advised by our Health & Safety Officer, Simon Wright, that it was becoming too dangerous. Subsequently our landlord the Town Council paid for a retaining wall to be built, and our thanks go to Mike Dart and his group of volunteers who in-filled behind the wall.
On Coach Road, Jackie Jennings held a successful Cream Tea fundraiser for our wildlife areas, and the landlords have recently carried out the much-needed cutting back of the hedges.
Weather-wise, we have all experienced the extremely hot summer, with watering becoming a never-ending chore, something that we may all have to recognise as a permanent feature of gardening with temperatures predicted to rise even more in the coming decades. The secretary is currently looking into water harvesting ideas put forward in the NSALG Magazine.
Following a visit to Decoy Field by an Environmental Advisory Officer from the Devon Wildlife Trust, who was very impressed by both the range of habitats and variety of planting she saw, our Environmental Officer Meryl Basham has been busy organising bat surveys for areas where no survey had been done, as well as organising a Bat and Moth Count evening with the help of Nigel and Claire Axford from Cooke’s Field, which revealed a truly impressive range of species present. In addition Meryl did a huge amount of work researching the history of the Association in recognition of the setting up of allotments in the town one hundred years ago in the aftermath of the Great War, and in National Allotments Week we had a colourful commemorative stand outside Lloyds Bank, where Neil Dixon kindly supported us.
All of the wildlife recorded on the allotment fields gives us ammunition to protect them. If there is a rare species on any field it needs to be recorded, pictures taken etc. The face of allotments is changing and environmental issues are at the forefront of everything we do these days. Put in a small pond to encourage the frogs that will eat your slugs, plant a hop to encourage ladybirds, put up bug hotels, solitary bee boxes, bird and bat boxes – the list is endless and the more we all do the safer the allotment fields are, as well as the more beautiful and diverse.
I am sure you are all aware of the campaign to stop development in Newton Abbot. It is not my job as Chairman to enter into the political rights and wrongs of the developments in Newton Abbot or to try and influence members in any way. I can however advise you where to look if you are of a mind to object.
This link will take you to a petition.
This link will take you to the Newton Says No website.
If you do feel that you want to object then pass these links onto your friends.
Both Meryl and Steve worked hard earlier this year to obtain a lottery grant to cover the cost of building a covered area outside the shop for the popular bacon-butty and fund raising events that we have been holding, and to contribute towards costs for the wildlife areas. I would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped out on the Wildlife Area at Decoy Field. If we can make this a success then we can do it on all the fields where there is room. It isn’t something that can be achieved overnight and it needs willing volunteers to help out.
We all need to treat the fields and the environment with respect and I would ask that you all do your utmost to ensure that you dispose of plastic sacks and containers properly. As we all know, our environment is polluted enough and we as allotment gardeners don’t want to add to the problem. Make sure your plastic is secured so that it doesn’t blow away, and please take all your rubbish home or to the tip. Skips are rising in price every year and a 10 ton skip is now over £300!!
We must all become more environmentally aware. The allotment fields are not a dumping ground for rubbish. Too often people start off with the best of intentions and then give up after 6 months and leave all their rubbish behind. We must all play our part in reporting members who are bringing large amounts of non-allotment related material to the fields.
I hope you as members enjoy using the new web-site. We have received many favourable responses from both members and third parties, and any further suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. We don’t have a webmaster as yet but I will do my best to update it as and when I can.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at next year’s AGM, where, as always, there will be much to discuss.
I would like to finish by sending all our members the very best wishes for the festive season to come, and a rewarding, enjoyable and productive growing season in 2019.
Tim Callard (Chairman)