Transition Horsham Community Allotment

Barbecue 2014 - Allot140731aDSCF9515.jpg

The Allotment Barbecue, Thursday, July 31st 2014. See below

.

Working Parties March to October 2016

Working parties take place on every other Saturday afternoon from 2 - 4pm and 1.30 - 3.00pm on every other alternate Wednesday afternoon. With coordinating work groups on the second Saturday of each month as shown below.

  • March 12th
  • April 9th
  • May 14th
  • June 11th
  • July 9th
  • August 13th
  • September 10th
  • October 8th

If you are interested in joining the Allotment group, or for more information email us at: allotment@transitionhorsham.org.uk

The Community Allotment was set up in the summer of 2012 by an enthusiastic group of 8 members of Transition Horsham with a new member, Tim Simmans, as the lead on the project. The committee of Chesworth Allotment Society were kind enough to allow us an area of ground to the south of the main allotments, at the bottom of the hill bounded by oak trees and with drains and hidden paths under the soil. The area was a good size and certainly enough for our needs.

The first sight of the allotment at our first working party on Sunday 8th July 2012 was enough to weaken the resolve of the keenest volunteer. Allotment 1It was packed with tall weeds so that we could hardly see the shape of the area that we had. Nevertheless we made a good start despite the strimmer giving up and not really having the right tools.

The second working party 2 weeks later made more of an impact and we produced an enormous pile of weeds. We found existing apple and pear tree, some autumn raspberry canes, a couple of gooseberry bushes and a surprise desert vine which looked very healthy. One of our group came along during the following week with a brush cutter and made a tremendous difference clearing the rest of the allotment so at least we could see what we had.

It was then time for a joint meeting to see what ideas there were for gardening the allotment, what our aim was and what we wanted to have in the space. We have agreed a shed is essential, with water harvesting gutters and tanks, a greenhouse or polytunnel would be nice to have, a sitting area essential, and then a variety of fruit and vegetables. As 2 of our number had been on a recent Introduction to Permaculture course at Brighton Permaculture Trust we were keen to put what we had learnt into practice and cover some of the weeds with cardboard, paper, compost and straw and leave it for the winter. Others were keen to get stuck in and dig, luckily there was no dispute as there is enough work for all of us to use whatever system we would prefer. We all agreed however that we would try and use recycled and or free material wherever possible, and our first port of call was the local brewery which has quantities of spent hops and cardboard we can use. Another agreement was to apply for funding for a shed and tools, and this is now in hand.

Winter 2012/13

Not surprisingly it has been quiet at the allotment over the winter. Adam has done a lot of digging, not easy in the wet clay, but we now have more or less 4 beds to think about planting up. We were offered a greenhouse from a neighbouring allotment and Allotment 5in the awful weather a few weekends ago Tim, Ben and Adam moved it to the allotment and put in the glass. Some panes are missing but that will be rectified shortly. As you can see it is a good size and will be really useful in future.

On approaching Nigel Wait of Newbridge Nurseries, he very kindly offered us one of his display sheds, 6x8, which is exactly what we need. The plan is to dismantle it and move it to the allotment on a fine weekend, and it looks like Feb 16th will be the day. A team of 7 armed with screwdrivers will begin the assault.

Earlier in January we had a planning meeting and talked about what we would grow, and importantly, how to get more of the community involved. We are planning to have a stall in the Carfax to publicise the allotment on 16th March and then a follow up meeting at Friends Meeting House on the evening of 28th March. March is when we need to get planting so lots of help and enthusiasm will be needed. We thought about an Open Day at the allotment on the 6th April so that people could see what we were doing and hopefully be enthused to join in. We decided to have 2 working parties a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, see work programme below.

February 2013

Luckily it was a mild day, no wind or rain, when we arrived at Newbridge Nurseries around noon to take down the 6x8 shed that had been given to us by the Nurseries. Allotment 6Six of us were met by Nigel Wait and pointed in the direction of the shed. We were thrilled to see a sturdy big shed with three windows and absolutely ideal for the Community Allotment. But how to take it down? The screws were well sunk into the woodwork and we were Allotment 10filled with doubts as to how and where to start. Enter Ben Flitney with his tractor, trailer and a friend with power screwdriver, both were totally unfazed with the task in hand, and we were so pleased to see them! First to come down was the roof, and then it was all systems go as the screws yielded and the sides came apart. We piled the pieces of shed onto Ben’s trailer, heavy work, and off to the allotment, popping by the Friends Meeting House to pick up a lovely 7 foot bench that the Quakers had given us for the allotment.

Discussion raged for about 10 minutes on where to site the shed. Decisions were made giving due consideration to the siting of trees, pond, sun and compost heap, sadly Adam’s broad beans lost the argument and were moved to a nearby bed to accommodate the shed. Then the work began to erect the shed, the site levelled, slabs and sleepers put deftly in place and the fun began to put it all together. Amazingly we did it all before the sun went down, a really good job, and it just goes to show what can be done with a good team of allotment enthusiasts and the generosity of a local people.

March 2013

Adam has dug another fruit bed and taken advantage of several special offers on fruit and filled the bed. The first lot was a collection of three columnar trees, an apple, pear and cherry tree. A week or so later he obtained a collection of two gooseberry bushes, three raspberry canes (different varieties) and five strawberry plants. These went in during atrocious weather when the weather was so wet the ground on which the greenhouse sits was flooded, not ideal but couldn't be helped. They all seem to have survived the ordeal anyway.

April 2013

The last lot of fruit we ordered arrived which consisted of a blackcurrant, redcurrant and whitecurrant bush, a couple more raspberry canes and more strawberry plants. The fruit bed was expanded a little to make room for everything but we just about got it all in, although some bushes may need moving further apart next winter. On the open day (6th) we (Alison, Maggie, Helen, Valerie, Trevor and Adam) managed to get the shed painted, constructed a raised bed out of pallets and dug over one of the existing beds. This morning (20th) at the work party Helen finished off the shed painting and dug over another bed whilst Valerie, Benny, Tim and Adam collected some unwanted paving slabs from a friend of Adam's who is having a new extension and patio. These can hopefully be used for the seating area..

May 2013

Potatoes have been planted and Adam continued to dig beds, Ben mended the compost bins and strimmed the site. Helen and Alison weeded the greenhouse and the old fruit area where the rhubarb is doing spectacularly well. We were delighted to have been given a selection of hand tools and a hose by one kind Horsham resident, and then the following week another kind resident gave us a selection of large pots and a small plastic greenhouse. All accepted gratefully. More gifts came from nearby when we given some terrific tomato and aubergine plants and so Maggie planted these in pots in the greenhouse. It is all gradually coming together. The next working party will be on Saturday 1st June in the afternoon.

June 2013

The allotment group has some really good news, firstly Southern Water has given us the funding we asked for in order to get water harvesting guttering on the shed and greenhouse, plus other essential tools. It’s a big vote of confidence for the community allotment project. Secondly we are going to have a summer get together – so put the date in your diaries now – a barbeque on the evening of Thursday 25th July, 6pm to 9pm. There will be an invite and RSVP going out soon.

On the allotment things are growing – potatoes, runner beans, spinach, broccoli, herbs, and in the greenhouse tomatoes, aubergine and lettuce. The good weather is great but it has meant a lot of watering. Next working party will be Saturday 15th June in the morning.

Late July 2013

Things are shaping up nicely on the community allotment, the courgettes are producing well, the vegetable spaghetti squash is developing fruit and the tomatoes in the green house have lots of tomatoes that are beginning to ripen. We also have two actual aubergines on the plants. Watering in the greenhouse has been demanding but with the help of Ben we now have a water saving system of guttering and water butts which will help enormously when we get some proper rain. Outside on the plot we have planted runner beans, leeks and broccoli and are starting to dig the potatoes. The spinach is good but not much of it has been used which is a shame.

Last week we were Barbecuefocussed on preparations for our first barbeque. We were very grateful to receive the offer of free paving from Phil of Far Plants. We jumped at the offer, and these with discounted and delivered sand from Newbridge Nurseries meant that Wednesday evening saw some of us, Helen, Sarah, Adam, Alison and Maggie set about laying a patio area between the shed and the greenhouse. Despite not having done anything like it before we managed well and in time for the barbeque on Thursday night. A good number of friends attended from the allotment site, Transition Horsham, Quakers and others. The weather remained kind to us and it was a lovely event which is bound to be repeated.

Barbecue

New working party dates are now out taking us into the autumn. We have decided to keep it to Saturday afternoons, 2.00pm to 4.00pm, again the first and third Saturday of the month, so 3rd and 17th of August, 7th and 21st of September and 5th and 19th of October. If you would like to join us just email us at: allotment@transitionhorsham.org.uk

January 2014

The New Year started well with the offer of some of the old pavers from the West Street refurbishment, some of us barrowed these down to the allotment and we will use them to edge beds and lay down paths. The high winds and the rain after Christmas damaged the greenhouse, one corner has been bent and the glass broken but at this point in time we think we can mend it.

Allotment 22On Saturday the 18th January we were very pleased to have a visit from Pete the Pond. As a very experienced Pond warden with his own business in pond work we had asked Pete for his advice on our pond, an ephemeral one which appears in winter and dries up in summer. Of course the allotment is at the bottom of a hill with a ditch draining the site nearby, so perhaps it is not surprising that it can get quite wet. On Saturday the pond was particularly full and Pete inspired us to develop it as a proper wildlife habitat.

We will widen and deepen it, puddle the existing clay up the sides to prevent it drying out so quickly, and plant it with native water loving plants like water mint. We were advised to provide stones or slabs, and piles of logs so amphibians can hide, and introduce water snails to begin with. Pete also suggested we keep a log of what we find and identify so that we have an environmental record of the allotment.

March 2014

Saturday afternoon, 1st March and the first of this year’s working parties on the allotment. A bright sunny day that felt like spring but the soil was still pretty sodden. There were four, and then five of us so we set about the tasks we fancied doing. Adam widened and deepened the pond, heavy work particularly with the water logged clay at the bottom and sides of the pond. Valerie and Alison weeded in-between the patio slabs and also the herb bed, while Maggie put up some hooks in the shed to tidy up the tools. Kristina then joined us to help with the weeding.

The wormery has survived a bit of neglect and the storms of winter, so that the compost they are making looks terrific, good old worms. We were very grateful to the Chair of Chesworth Allotments, Brian, and his 'men' who, without asking, mended our battered greenhouse and secured it to a base. Adam will now be able to get some polycarbonate panes to repair the broken glass and get it functional for spring. Laying paths with the old West Street pavers will be one of the main jobs coming up, in addition to sowing vegetables ready for planting out. As the afternoon drew on Alison made mugs of tea for us and we went away happy with produce of purple sprouting broccoli, spinach and some lovely early rhubarb. A good start to the allotment year.

June 2014

Due to busy lives we have not updated progress on the community allotment for a while, but progress is certainly being made through our fortnightly working parties. We were delighted that another young woman, Rebecca, has joined us who has had experience working on a community allotment in Brighton before moving to Horsham.

Helen continues the hard work to dig out a major access path through the site, which is to be laid with weed suppressant, sand and the Horsham West Street pavers. We were worried about the cost and delivery of sand but have had a generous offer from Rudridge, the Horsham based civil engineering and groundwork company, to supply us with sand and bark so with luck and hard work the path will be complete for our annual BBQ on July 31st.

Pete the Pond made another visit and helped us out with a pond liner, plants and his expertise. The pond has been kept topped up by recent rains so there are lots of water boatmen, visiting butterflies, expanding plants and single bees finding holes in the clay sides to nest in.

Water Butt The greenhouse is up and running after the storms of winter, and we spent the last of our Southern Water grant on waterbutts for the greenhouse which will help enormously with the task to watering the tomatoes that Adam planted the other day.

The fruit beds took a lot of weeding in Spring, and Alison and Rebecca bravely took on this task so they now look very promising with apples, pears, raspberries and strawberries all coming on well. Valerie grew courgettes and beans for us and these have been planted out with potatoes and brassica, with Adam on slug watch.

The community allotment site has expanded slightly with our taking on another half allotment at the end of our existing patch. We now have another greenhouse and small shed which need refurbishment but we are sure will be useful.

Last Saturday, 7th June, we had a stall in the Simply Gardening event in the Forum organised by our friends Horsham in Bloom. The idea was for us to advertise the Community Allotment and find a few more people who wanted to grow veg but were a bit unsure, or not wanting a whole allotment. There was some interest from people that did not know we were there, and many leaflets taken so it was a good day despite the monsoon like rain in the morning.

August 2014

In preparation for the summer BBQ on Thursday 31st July we picked beans, carrots, potatoes and courgettes from the allotment and made a variety of salads as well as carrot cake (Adam's speciality) courgette and ginger cake and courgette and chocolate muffins. We also tidied up the site and resurrected the old metal BBQ, promising ourselves that we should make a more permanent BBQ over the winter with the bricks we have.

Allot140731bJulyBBQ.jpg

The weather stayed dry and warm so it was an ideal evening for the event. Alan made his famous veggie kebabs and everyone brought their own BBQ food, from salmon steaks to veggie burgers. Maggie produced some elderflower cordial, made from elder flowers picked from hedgerows surrounding the allotment site, which with sparkling water was delicious.

We had fewer other allotment holders attending this year, but just as many interested people as last year, perhaps more, some of whom went home with bags of allotment produce. We managed to clear up just before the light faded completely; feeling satisfied that it had been a lovely evening, and one that will become a regular feature of the summer for us.

2PathLayingr.jpgOn Friday 8th August, late afternoon, we had a delivery of 8 tonnes of sand, wooden path edging and pegs, plus two rolls of weed suppressant all supplied by our friends at Rudridge. We began to shift the sand from the allotment gate down to the community allotment site and then the team of 7 volunteers began again on Saturday morning to continue shifting the sand, spreading it on the path on top of the weed suppressant. 9PathLayingr.jpgThen came the job of putting in the wooden sides, drilling and fixing, levelling and compacting the sand, and then placing the pavers on top before whacking down again.

A long, exhausting and careful job, but the result is excellent as you can see in the photos. There is more to do, and any volunteers more than welcome next Saturday afternoon. In the meantime many thanks to Trevor Rogers who did a sterling job in both expertise and endless energy, Helen of course who kept us all up to speed, Trevor and Alison Marshall, Adam, Valerie, Maggie and a new volunteer Justin, who gave all or some of their time

October 2014

Saturday, 18th October, was our last official working party of the year. During the week Helen had taken delivery of wooden planks, the gift of Rudridge, in order to build some raised beds. We had hoped to begin making these beds on Saturday but several things conspired against us. There were only four of us, Helen, Valerie, Alison and myself, Maggie, and none of us were in possession of a battery operated screwdriver. And then there was the rain, although it did pass. However, we measured up and planned where the two beds would go, had a cup of tea, and thought about it some more.

Once the rain had subsided we began to clear the site of piles of bricks and stack them neatly out of the way to be used later for paths and edging. We finished, reasonably pleased to have prepared the area for the beds. Although the official working parties have now ended we will get together again fairly soon to build the raised beds, and invite Rudridge to see what we have done with their generous support. We left, taking with us some lovely ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse, kale, potatoes and the one remaining Bramley apple still clinging to the tree.

We have had enquiries about joining the community allotment from two people keen to become involved but with limited time due to family commitments and shift work. We were delighted — this is no problem, and would encourage any others out there to get in touch — we can try and work around any difficulties.

December 2014 - a celebration

This will be the last update of the year and it ends on a high with a celebration by local building materials company Rudridge who have provided our community allotment with pavers and wood so that we could improve access onto and through the site.

RudridgeCelebration141205i5.jpgThe celebration took place at the Community Allotment on Friday 6th December when John Chesson, Branch Manager for Rudridge Horsham and Darren Price, Rudridge Business Development Manager, and two media professionals came to the allotment armed with a bottle of bubbly and cameras. We provided the cake. It was chilly but a glimmer of sun helped the photos as we showed off the new path and two raised beds, to much appreciation. Three other allotment holders from Chesworth came along to join in the celebration, have a chat and make new friends. Hopefully a piece will be in the County Times this coming week, and our relationship with Rudridge will go from strength to strength.

We are delighted to report that we received £494 from the Waitrose Green Token Scheme so very many thanks to those who voted for us when they shopped. The first priority will be to get glass, or similar material, to refurbish the second greenhouse in the New Year.

Seedy Saturday will be on Saturday, 21st February 2015 at Horsham Friend’s Meeting House from 10.00am until 4.00pm. Put it in your diaries now and bring along your collected seed to swap or pick up for a donation.

March 2015

Saturday 7th March was the first of 2015 working parties at the Community Allotment. There were only two of us to kick off the New Year, March 2015 1.jpgAdam and Maggie. The weather was good for early March but it was too early to start planting. We had been concerned about the weed suppressant unravelling and shedding strands of plastic over the soil, so Adam began to lift the strips we had put down for paths and moved some pavers in as stepping stones. Maggie shifted soil from a heap into the raised beds and did a bit of weeding.

The pond looked good, quite full with a patch of frog spawn, and the Bramley apple tree had been restored to an upright position during the winter. The work parties will continue now every fortnight on a Saturday afternoon, and in between on a Wednesday afternoon if there is the demand.

April 2015

Open Day 2015

The community allotment had its spring Open Day on Saturday, 18th April. It was sunny and bright as we showed people around the allotment, what we had done and what was planned. We offered coffee, tea, elderflower cordial and the inevitable cake. It was lovely to meet those who came, including our friends from Chesworth Farm. Great excitement ensued when Tim Thomas was able to identify types of newts, a frog and various snails and insects that had colonised the wildlife pond. We are delighted to report that as a result of the Open Day we have 3 new recruits to the team, who will make a difference to what we can grow. Next working parties are April 22nd and May 2nd.

May 2015

Open Day 2015

Things are progressing well on the allotment. Due to many people having commitments on the 16th we had an alternative working party on the 9th for which seven turned up. We continued working on a secondary paved area which will be used to house the barbeque. Spinach was sown in one of the raised beds and several other varieties of veg (beetroot and chard) were sown in one of the standard beds. The weeding continues and virtually all of the main beds are clear and ready for planting up soon, the main focus is to tidy up some of the paths between the beds. The second half plot now has several rows of potatoes planted. The next official working party will be on the 6th of June at which point the beans and courgettes should be ready to go out.

You can email us at allotment@transitionhorsham.org.uk.

Allot 2 Allot 4 Allot 3 Allot 7 Allot 8 Allot 9 Allot 11 Allot 12 Allot 13 Allot 15 Allot 16 Allot 17 Allot 19 Allot 21 Main path New additions Pond 1PathLayingr.jpg 3PathLayingr.jpg 5PathLayingr.jpg 6PathLayingr.jpg 7PathLayingr.jpg Work Party 1.jpg Work Party 3.jpg Work Party 7.jpg WorkParty14101805.jpg RudridgeCelebration141205i8s.jpg RudridgeCelebration141205i9s.jpg Frog