BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALLOTMENT FEDERATION AGM
By Andrew M Collins
This Wednesday night the Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation (BHAF) held their annual general meeting at the Brighthelm Centre, Brighton. It was well attended with around 170 people turning up.
BHAF is run by allotment holders and its stated aim is to protect and promote the rights of “allotmenteers” in Brighton & Hove.
Brighton and Hove Allotments
Currently there are 3,042 lettable plots, with 203 vacancies. The waiting list of 1,182 is down from the last two years.
The two hour meeting, chaired by Allan Brown, covered funding, wildlife preserves, allotment waiting lists, site representatives and new promotional literature.
Media personality and organic gardening expert Bob Flowerdew gave a fascinating and entertaining talk for the final hour.
BHAF work with a small budget – last year was less than £6,000 – but received some extra council funding, including a £2,500 grant towards promotional materials for new plot holders.
Brighton & Hove City Council also allocated £6,000 for site development.
The majority of this was spent on a new roof and removal of the old asbestos roof for the meeting room/store hut at the Moulescoombe Estate site.
Site representatives were present, and posed several questions to the committee.
Richard Howard, site rep. officer, said that from now on notices of a site representative vote will be posted on the gates to all relevant allotment sites.
He also agreed to notify standing site representatives that they will be continuing in their role if their position remained uncontested, as most do.
It was noted that nettle patches do sometime provide a natural habitat for certain species of butterflies and birds, and should be left intact.
In conjunction with the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere, an information leaflet about butterfly conservation has been produced and will be provided to all site representatives.
BHAF Publicity Officer Mark Carroll said he would be putting the leaflet online in response to audience requests for this.
The Roedale Valley allotment site already has a butterfly plot for butterfly conservation, and the Butterfly Conservation Society and managing it.
Endangered butterfly species, such as the White Letter Hairstreak, have been found on two sites already, including this one, so designating problem plots as butterfly conservation zones is proving effective.
The council are fully supportive of this.
Commenting on leaving parts of some allotment patches as ‘wild’ and the new relaxed rules on tidiness, the Plot Liaison Officer Giuseppina Salamone, said :
‘Being scruffy is healthy to wildlife. We are not despotic. I am in favour of an allotment that looks a bit lively.
‘The new rules are about respect for your neighbours … grow your nettles in the middle!’
WELCOME PACK FOR NEW ALLOTMENTEERS
A new, colourful and instructive welcome pack has been produced by BHAF in conjunction with Brighton and Hove Good Partnership.
It features a basic calendar guide for planting and sowing as well as a host of other important information. Common beginner mistakes are also highlighted.
A main theme of the pack was protection of wildlife areas and sites of local nature importance.
Brighton and Hove City Council allotment rules can be downloaded here.
BOB FLOWERDEW TALK
Regular Gardeners’ Question time panelist and author Bob Flowerdew gave a wonderfully eloquent and witty talk for the last hour of the AGM.
As well as a host of amusing gardening anecdotes, he provided a plethora of gardening tips, covering root crops, grapevines, container planting, gardening idealism versus realism and planning. He said;
‘Concentrate on what we want and how we are going to get there. Over and over again we do things that don’t make life easy for ourselves.’
He cited simple tips such as sharpening your hoe regularly and using left over boiled water from kettles to kill weeds.
He also said that many existing gardening guides were either outdated and old fashioned, or pitched towards commercial growers rather than allotmenteers, so revised contemporary information was very necessary.
In all, an excellent talk and a very inspiring and informative evening.
Allotment gardening, wildlife preservation and biodiversity is clearly thriving in our City, and with Council support in conjunction with various conservation groups, this vital area of our society can only continue to improve.
For further information, visit:
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALLOTMENT FEDERATION : http://www.bhaf.org.uk
BOB FLOWERDEW : http://bobflowerdew.co.uk
BRIGHTON AND LEWES DOWNS CONSERVATION : http://biospherehere.org.uk
BRIGHTON AND HOVE FOOD PARTNERSHIP : http://bhfood.org.uk
BRIGHTON AND HOVE WILDLIFE FORUM : http://www.bhwf.org.uk