“My Lords, the Government recognise the importance of allotment gardening for food provision, recreation and the sustainable regeneration of towns and cities. The Government are aware of the value of allotments to the whole community, as well as to the individuals who use them”.
Baroness Hayman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, quoted in Hansard, April 11, 1998
If you have read the most recent Newsletter then you will know that the Management Committee is still meeting on line via Zoom, sadly not all committee members have this technology and it does have its drawbacks i.e. sometimes connections fail and attendees disappear or either can’t be seen or heard. However we are able to deal with the important business of running the association. Such a meeting took place last night and it was felt that with changes made by the government it was time for an update.
I don’t want to get into the politics of whether the slow relaxing of rules is too early or whether the government have got it right or wrong. We as a committee care about one thing – your continued safety on the allotment fields. With that in mind here is the latest guidance, please take the time to read it –
We all continue to live through a crisis, the likes of which the country has never experienced before. The community spirit that exists on allotment sites has shone through over the past three months and is more important now than ever before. Please continue to look out for one another during these very difficult times and take all the steps you can to reduce the risk of contagion from the Covid-19 virus when you visit the plot.
Covid-19 – The virus that causes Covid-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. The droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and they quickly fall and contaminate floors and surfaces.
Smaller airborne particles can remain in the air for some time. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of a person who has Convid-19- hence the 2m social distancing requirement, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease it is important that plot-holders do not drop their guard and remember that those over 70 years of age, regardless of general health are particularly vulnerable and should be limiting any contact with people outside of their household.
You can visit the allotment with members of your household.
There is no time limit on how long you can spend at the allotment.
To ensure your family’s and everyone else’s safety at the plot –
- Do not attend the plot if you have coronavirus symptoms or a family member is self-isolating.
- Use hand sanitiser (should be 60% alcohol content) before entering the site and opening any gate locks.
- Take a flask of hot water and wash your hands for 20 seconds after entering closing the lock. Dry with paper towels which are more effective as they remove dead skin scales on which virus and bacteria could sit.
- DO NOT touch your face after using anything that has been touched by other people – use an elbow to work push taps for example.
- Hand sanitise again for 20 seconds, before opening and closing the lock to leave the site.
- Use hand sanitiser after closing the lock.
- Wash hands when you get home.
- Observe “Social Distancing” with each other 2-3 metres preferably more.
- If you take your children to the plot, ensure that they stay within its confines and do not run around on communal paths and spaces.
- Do not share tools.
- Do not wash your hands in water troughs
Can you drive to your allotment? The rules on this have been relaxed and you can.
If you have hens or other livestock to care for at the plot, animal welfare considerations mean that this would be seen as essential travel even if further movement restrictions are put in place. Bees count as livestock.
The toilet at Decoy remains closed.
Field Managers have reported that most plots, with the exception of some elderly members have all been worked during this crisis. However there are plots that are not worked by elderly members which remain un-worked, it was agreed that the membership secretary would contact all members that have plots not being worked to ascertain their current status.
The Shop – The on-line ordering / payment system has worked exceptionally well and getting stock is becoming easier now. Ferai worked tirelessly to get stock into the shop during the period when garden centres were shut. This has resulted in a massive amount of work for him and last night Kevin Johns was voted back onto the committee as Assistant Shop Manager.
Bonfires and BBQs – The Secretary has checked with the Department for Environmental Health and the ban still remains in place at this time. We will check again next month.
It is essential that no un-authorised people are allowed onto the plots for the duration of this emergency, if you do wish to bring someone to assist with work on the plot, please ensure that that this is notified either to the Secretary or Field Manager. Careful consideration should be given to introducing anyone over 70, those with underlying illness or pregnant women. In addition if you employ someone to come and do some work for you please inform the Field Manager in advance of the work being undertaken.
Undertake your own risk assessment around your plot and take appropriate action to reduce hazards and ensure that you don’t end up in hospital through your own negligence.
Main areas that are possible points of contagion are communal water troughs, taps, and gate locks. Be extra cautious after using these and hand sanitise regularly.
Some members have become buddies to members who are shielding and our sincere thanks to them, they have done an amazing job keeping peoples plots under control during the crisis.
Gatherings – Gatherings of over 6 people (even if they are socially distanced) are illegal. Click here for government advice about gatherings.
AGM – At the present time the government ruling on social distancing and gatherings means that the Associations AGM is postponed until restrictions have been lifted. We are advised that The FCA will not take action against incorporated bodies whilst restrictions are in place.
Plot Allocation – We have worked out an almost totally remote way of renting out plots using technology whilst observing social distancing, this means that empty plots will be rented out very soon.
Any plot-holder who is self-isolating because a household member is ill with coronavirus should not be visiting the site at all.
Click on the link to read about self isolating
Click on the link to read about social distancing
Government advice about the Coronavirus is updated on a regular basis at this link.
For NHS information and advice CLICK HERE
South West Water – The demand for water has rocketed over the past three months due to more time being spent gardening and filling paddling pools etc. This has led to South West Water issuing a “5 litres challenge” it is designed to encourage users to limit their daily usage to 5 litres. Reservoir levels, although not yet critical, have been depleted due to the hot dry weather in May. So let’s try and do our bit by not over watering.
The local authorities continue to watch what people are doing. Be under no illusion, they will take action if they see members in groups. Compliance with all restrictions on the noticeboards is essential. There must be no gathering of more than six people at 2 metres apart on the fields whatsoever. We all have to play our part and keep our distance.
Thanks to all members for their continued diligence during this crisis, it is because every one of you has followed the guidance that the fields remain open.
Stay Safe – Let’s all dig for Recovery rather than for Victory!
Tim Callard (Chairman)
Discover The World Of Allotment Gardening
We are a community enterprise run by a group of volunteers helping its members and making allotment gardening available to the citizens of Newton Abbot and District.
The Association was founded in the early 20th century. Today we have five fields, namely; Blake’s, Bradley, Coach Road, Cooke’s and Decoy.
Newton Abbot Town Council is our Statutory Authority, and we have a close and happy relationship working with them as our landlord.
The Benefits of Allotments
- Healthier, tastier food
- A satisfying hobby
- Fresh air and exercise
- A return to nature
- Resource conservation
- Friendship opportunities
- Your very own food supply
- Community spirit
- Therapeutic relief of stress and depression
- Fresh food for family, friends and the community
- A chance to keep bees, rabbits and chickens (including rare breeds)
- Room for your own greenhouse and shed
- A place to grow fruit and flowers for the home, as well as vegetables
- An opportunity to enter your produce into yearly competitions.
- A place to create your own haven for wildlife.