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Allotment Secretary

by Tim Brooks

11 Jan 2023

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My usual monthly jottings here are usually focused on the outdoors and the ways of growing vegetables and fruit on the plots. But at this point of the year it’s usually too cold and wet for outside work. Gardeners being confined to occasional visits to the greenhouse for making early sowings, long for the warmer and brighter days ahead.

However, being secretary and treasurer at our allotment site in Burton, there is always a range of tasks to do early in the year, such as preparing for the AGM (annual general meeting) which we have during January, as a rule, where all the committee members including myself and the chairman, face re-election or not as the case may be. The association members (the plotholders) get to vote at the meeting, who they’d prefer or want on the committee for the coming year.

AGM’s are always interesting or memorable for various reasons. Someone might say something to provoke a heated debate, or a member may hold a grudge against another plotholder, so they might decide to try to vote him or her out of their position. I’m guessing it’s the same everywhere that has a committee.

There are of course certain aspects of the secretary job, which include discipline on the site and keeping allotment plots tidy through the year. If a certain plot gets too untidy, then that plotholder must either get it tidied up or face eviction, otherwise it is not fair on those who do keep their vegetable plots in a neat and well planted state, as weeds spread easily. At the AGM any potential new plotholders fill in forms to join. Our landlords are the local parish council, so they set out these rules that we all must follow. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved for a secretary on an allotment site.

As treasurer, I am entrusted with looking after the finances and spending at our site. Early this year we were fortunate enough to get a ‘national lottery community fund’ payment for some new sheds, which was fantastic and it has improved the site a lot. Recently I got another grant from another funding source, that has enabled us to get compost bins for all the plots on the site.

The rents taken each year would not fund much in the way of projects, so outside funding is essential nowadays for allotment sites to improve. Unfortunately a lot of allotment sites around the UK are being lost to developments, with councils facing pressures from government, to build more affordable housing. So I feel we must keep our site looking it’s best to prevent it going the same way. The good news is, plots are currently in bigger demand due to rising food costs and the needs to improve mental health, which the great outdoors can be a big factor in helping with.

So, allotments play a vital part in fitness, providing food and our mental well being too.
Happy Gardening!

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