Transition Horsham Community Allotment 2020

Transition Horsham Allotment 2020

On a bright February morning the allotment had some special visitors! Around 22 volunteer members of Green Gym had arrived to lend a hand (or three or four) to tame the compost heap which over time had become unmanageable. They were a very cheery and willing crew and worked extremely hard to rebuild the compost heap with new pallets and section it off. They also cleared a large bed that had been fallow for some years and trimmed some lower branches that were over hanging the raised beds. Making short work of the tasks, at the end it was tea and biscuits all round. I'm not sure the allotment knew what had hit it! Thank you so much to Green Gym.

So the plot was all ready for the coming main growing season when the pandemic hit in March. Fortunately being an outdoor activity we had less restrictions during lockdown 1 and managed to keep the plot ticking over with just a few people visiting at any one time, with social distancing of course, and we also got tech savvy. Needs must! Weekly Zoom meetings were held to coordinate our work efforts and a WhatsApp group was started to keep everyone in the loop.

Lockdown 1 and the pandemic actually had very positive effects for the allotment as ‘growing your own’ became fashionable and brought us a number of new members. We welcomed Jayne, Victoria, Debbie, Jenny and Mary. Chris and Matthew joined after volunteering with Green Gym when they rebuilt the compost. Tomatoes were planted in the greenhouse including a beautiful Italian plum tomato which gave a very healthy crop (thanks for the seed Jayne) and plans were made to utilise the newly cleared area for raised beds. Adam sourced us the wood and materials for making the raised beds with some difficulty due to the pandemic lockdown but by the end of the year they had been made and filled with compost. One of them was swiftly planted with broad beans to over winter and another raised bed used for renewing the strawberry bed from runners from other plot holders. For the first time we are running work parties (or what passes for such in a pandemic) through the winter months, weather and soil conditions permitting.

Freecycle came into its own when Judith spotted a large fruit cage whilst browsing there. We had been wondering what we could use to make a fruit cage as part of our forward planning, so couldn’t believe our luck to pick up such a good one for free. Thanks Jenny for the transport! A council grant was applied for and won by Alison to cover costs of installation and work has begun to prepare the area which will be continued over winter, ground conditions and government guidelines permitting.

Last but not least this year saw the pond getting a makeover. It was a small pond and was losing water at quite a rate so we called in Chris who kindly advised the best way to go about it’s transformation. Following government guidance for social distancing and how many people were allowed on the plot the old sediment and plants were set aside whilst the area was enlarged. Much fun and discussion was had refilling and reintroducing the old ponds previous inhabitants and over a number of weeks we have completed the edging and surrounding area. Discussion is ongoing to finalise optimal planting and we watch it with interest for new inhabitants.

Quotes for 2020

It's been just really nice to see how it's run. Learning how to plant garlic and eating an apple straight from the tree. I don't remember ever doing that. (Jenny)

Every one that I have met has been very friendly and willing to pass on their knowledge. I just love going down there for the tranquility. (Debbie)

As a group it was sorting out the pond. Everyone seemed to play a part in recreating the new one, from draining the old one, digging out unwanted plant life, making the new hole, laying the sheeting and then filling and edging. It was a great sense of us all coming together and now we have a lovely pond. I loved going to the plot in the height of the summer at early evening. I’d water crops, tie up trailing toms and hoe. And then sit and reflect on the peace and quiet, listening to bird song. It was a special place of calm in an otherwise upside down world. (Jayne)

The opportunity to get outside with like minded people. (Victoria)

Being involved with the allotment gives me a delightful focus away from health concerns, also exercise and fresh air. Love it. (Judith)


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