EWAA Committee Meeting – MINUTES

22 Jan 2015, 7.30pm

Attending:      Julian Stern, George Murray, Tony Flett, Stewart Young, Meryl Wilford, Sarah Pollard, Clare Ferguson, Jane Nimmo-~Smith

  1. Minutes – MW
  2. Apologies:
  • Apologies from Jane Miller, Mike Harris, Pat Mansfield and Josie Eade.
  1. Minutes of last meeting / matters arising(Sarah to provide)
  2. Committee meeting dates
  • Meetings take place at 7.30 on 2nd Thursday of alternate months in 2015. Next meetings:

12th March

14th May

9th July

10th September

  1. Membership report
  • George explained there is a Hotmail account for membership????
  • A review of the system for plot allocation is to take place in the 2nd week of February. Discussion about whether new-comers should have precedence over existing members when given choice of available plots. Some opinion that current members should be given priority as they have proven interest in developing plots but perhaps should be on case-by-case basis and at discretion of membership secretaries, George and AnneHelen. AP: George to circulate guidelines for plot allocation.
  • Number of plots which are now available to be confirmed.
  • Plot inspections possibly in May ???
  • Priority is to increase the membership waiting list and advertise EWAA plot availability more widely.
  1. Treasurer’s report (Jon Willis away)
  • Apart from the income from rents, the grant of £1,376 from the council for the raised beds projects was the most significant income but at the Allotment Federation meeting in January there was a clear message from the Council that funds would not be forthcoming in future. Therefore need to be careful with future expenditure although at present there will be approx. £3,000 as cash savings “cushion” in bank after capital projects ( shop etc) accounted for.
  • There is public liability insurance that insures the association against claims.

AP:Julian to check detail of exactly what is covered.

7. Shop report – stock/delivery of spuds

  • Delivery of potatoes expected w/c 23/02/15.
  • Ordering onions aiming for availability 23/02/15 40kg in total rather than 75kg as in previous years to avoid unsold stock.
  • Stock of seed packets: Sarah suggests that if members spend £10 on seeds they get one packet free.
  • Calcified seaweed. Suggested delivery of 25kg. (very good for brassicas and wildlife-friendly)
  • Andy Howard from Heritage Fruit Company would like to have spring plant sale 14th March. Not able to give a talk on soil nutrition.
  • Publicity about shop stock is on Facebook/ webpage but maybe more publicity needed, e.g posters in shop or outside. AP MW / SP to work on posters to publicize sale
  1. Machinery matters
  • Strimmers: Stewart trying to change/ upgrade the heads. In progress.
  • Two manual mowers have been donated.
  • Discussion about whether to buy a rotavator. A surveyor was sent to members and there were 34 replies. Majority said that they had not used one and over half said they didn’t like using rotavator. So quite an even split with 16 people in favour of buying one and 14 against.
  • Comments made in the survey seemed to show that many people thought a rotavator would be good to tame an over-grown plot whereas others pointed out that in fact there are often more weeds after using a rotavator because the weeds are chopped up and multiplied. Also the cost of maintenance and upkeep and big initial expense of purchase were seen as drawbacks, especially when hiring one for a weekend seemed relatively inexpensive £41 for weekend from HSS hire. The size and weight of large rotavator also makes use difficult for some people.
  • Cost of £1,300 is possible for 1x rotavator and 1x small tiller (e.g mantis). AP: No decision taken.
  1. Work Party planning 24/25 January/raised beds
  • Plot 1 to be divided into 3 sections each with two raised beds. These could be rented out at approx. £10 each tbc.
  • White House plots could have double-depth raised beds. So only two plots would have raised beds but they would be good for wheelchair access.
  1. Whitehouse project report
  • Summary of situation: John Nicolls created the White House charity and rented the space from the council. Since death of his son in approx. 2012, there has been no activity at the site and he is now in dispute with Council over rent.
  • EWAA recently took over the adjacent outside plots which had previously been part of the White House project and are now part of allotments.
  • Julian spoke to John Nicolls in December to try and clarify what his intentions are regarding the project. Unclear and therefore Julian waiting to hear from the Council (Estates Management) for update on state of lease.
  • SY/CF/MW met and looked at site to try and assess whether EWAA members might find the space useful. There are 4 areas: A) the former polytunnel B) the orchard C) the buildings D) the netted gallery. (See scale plan below)
  • Conclusion was that although it is a shame that the space is not being used, difficult to see how EWAA members could use it because the former polytunnel and netted area consists mainly of bench space and difficult to see how members would use this effectively.
  • Discussion about some of the factors to take into consideration when thinking about possible future uses:
  1. If area continues to be on separate lease with Council, then the area probably needs to be formally independent and separate ie. Separate entrance and no EWAA involvement with connection to electricity and water. At present there would be potential security issues as EWAA is responsible for access but would have no control over who comes through the site. Also EWAA is responsible for payment of utilities but no control over usage.
  2. If area was absorbed into EWAA lease, then there would be a possibility of letting the area to another project e.g Abundance, Chris Michael’s group or other Community Interest group, while at the same time taking control over choice of new users who could either be affiliated to EWAA or have the area as sublet.
  1. Other site issues
  • Council to cut back willows /overgrown trees in mid-March. . Council have agreed to cut the willows along the cycle path and also middle row, top left abutting urban wildlife. AP: Julian liaising with Council re chipper and access etc.
  • Fly-tipping. Closing the gate with rope tie might be deterrent. The gate did have a lock at one time but this had to be removed because the car park area is not actually part of the allotment land.
  • Manure: David Pars doesn’t seem to be in business. AP: Alternative suppliers needed??
  • Vehicle ban is still in force as ground seems quite water-logged.
  • Shop rota _ Jane will send reminders but rota is on website. (See also below)
  1. AOB:
  • There is new Council “Allotment officer” (name???)with designated 2 days/ month for allotments.
  • Gardeners’ Question Time 9th March at Town Hall. Suggestion to have draw or raffle for 5 tickets given by Federation. ?
  • Oxford Allotment Federation competition in June and September. More details needed?
EWAA Committee Meeting Minutes – 22 January 2015

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