Sandridge Road Allotment Association

Review of 2011



Many of you reading this are SRAA members of longstanding, however as there is always a turn-over of plots each year we gain new members on a regular basis and often they are unaware of what the association actually do throughout the year, so this year as the AGM approaches (on Wednesday 8th February) we thought it would be helpful to have a look back at what has been achieved over the last 12 months, which has actually been one of the busiest years in the history of the SRAA, thanks to the hard work of the committee assisted by enthusiastic members who have given up their valuable time to make the aims of the committee turn into reality, from arranging and attending the various social events, to the creation of new facilities that it is hoped will help make Sandridge Road one of the most desirable allotment locations in St Albans for anyone lucky enough to have a plot there.


So here we go, with as little text as possible interspersed with a few photos to keep you interested to reach the end !




Annual General Meeting


The 2011 AGM was held and new faces were added to the Committee, the new officers being John Willan as Chairman and Lynne Edlin as Treasurer, both joining our long standing Secretary Chris Graves. The rest of the committee was made up by Mike Lewis, Martin Fatharly, Joy Bird, Heather Teare & Derek Tarrant.


John gave a short new chairman's speech relating to possible changes that may be implemented by the Council during 2011 and as Site Representative he would keep the committee aware of any impending problems at the reduced number of meetings to four per year. The second part of his speech was related to encouraging the completion of the Communal Cabin and asking the members present to try and find time to attend the forthcoming working parties. John also shared his feelings that the association should continue to try and secure a grant to provide a toilet facility and investigate whether we could possibly have a small scale trading store, set up for the supply of general supplies regularly used on a plot, all these ideas within the next year! (more on the outcome of all three of these projects and more to follow in this review). 






Early May saw the completion of a milestone as the concrete slab laying for the new cabin base was completed, which gave everyone a great incentive to finalise the build of the Cabin Structure in time for the first BBQ in July.



Marion proving her confidence in the workmanship, mainly due to David's sturdy timber sub-structure.





Our annual sale was held, but just prior to the sale the main grower Joy Bird was taken into hospital and Lynne and Heather had to step in and track down the intended plants via mobile phone instructions from Joy.


Although the weather was a little cold due to the wind, it stayed dry and the new concrete base was utilised by Lynne & Derek to lay out the plants, over the two sale days and sum of £90 was raised towards the association funds. Thanks to all who attended and donated plants to sell and also purchased further plants to grow on their own plots.






Early July saw the delivery of the trellis and flat packed shed and frantic painting ensued by anyone who was able to hold a paint brush and wield a hammer.

At one point we were not sure if any of us had the energy to reach the finish !





We held this event at in a marquee in the garden of The Green Man Sandridge, on a windy summer evening and enjoyed a well earnt social break from the Cabin build.


Having all assembled with glasses charged, John Willan started the question time with a few plant related problems that plot holders may experience at our site, showing samples of plants to demonstrate the effects of various diseases. He followed on by answering pre-submitted questions, intermixed with questions from the floor.



After what was about two hours, John was pleased to call the raffle numbers and at last have a sit down, having completed what we all felt was a very informative and entertaining talk. 





Thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach and a two week postponement due to bad weather, we managed to complete the Cabin just in time for the arrival of all the guests attending the BBQ (although some of the paint was still a little wet), metres of bunting was made by Lynne and Chris and David kindly helped furnish the inside by donating a large extending plastic garden table and six chairs, plus wooden storage units.


The BBQ was a brilliant success due to the air of achievement and the weather was a perfect summers afternoon, with the added enjoyment of some good food provided by various members served up to the best ever turn out of approx. 50 guests.



Finished at last and time to enjoy the BBQ


Everyone was talking about the new cabin, but it soon changed to the subject of the next project ..... a toilet facility !







On Friday night prior to the second BBQ we had a very nasty attack by vandals who overnight went round the site causing a large amount of damage and committed the evil crime of slaughtering a number of plot holders chickens and leaving the site with no water due to stealing every tap from the site.


The police were in attendance most of Saturday liaising with Joy & Lynne who stood in as site liaison officers as John Willan was away on holiday. The devastated plot holders had to clear up the horrific aftermath and subsequently we were the full front page news of the Herts Advertiser.


The liaison with the police led to us getting involved in setting up the Allotment Watch Scheme and Joy Bird has taken on the role as site liaison officer concerning any matters related to problems plot holders may encounter, or wish to report any suspicious activity.





With sad hearts we carried on and held the BBQ on the Sunday afternoon after the awful events of the Friday night, but as it turned out the weather held fine and the true spirit of the SRAA was demonstrated by everyone joining in to collect funds which were donated to the two plots which had lost chickens, to re-stock with new hens.


Again the turn out was brilliant and a good communal social get together ensued, which was added to by a well supported Raffle which further boosted the Association funds.






As we have never experienced this type of mindless vandalism at our site before and armed with suggestions from the Police, it prompted the committee to address the security of the site and with the active involvement of Tom Hardy who investigated any grants available from the Home Office, to improve our security to try and tackle the problem at the source, plus implementing other solutions to help the Police obtain evidence to apprehend the culprits should they enter the site again.

Tom was successful in finding that grants are available under the Community Action against Crime Innovation Fund (CAAC:IF), so wasting no time a committee meeting was held and Tom was co-opted onto the committee, which then looked at where we may be able to request funding for areas covered within the grant structure, with each member suggesting different blocks of activity and required associated funding requirement which are now finalised in the grant application as follows.


Activity 1 - Tool and equipment marking and tagging event - (Funding total £350)


Activity 2 - Pyracantha Hedge planting events - (Funding total £1,000)


Activity 3 - Community days - (Funding total £2,000)


Activity 4 - Remedial works to make the perimeter more robust - (Funding total £3,000)

Activity 5 - Allotment Watch scheme - (Funding total £400)


Activity 6 – Development of the communal plot - (Funding total £1,485)


Activity 7 – Novel Alarm System - (Funding total £850)


Total funding applied for was £9,085 majority required in this financial year, with the remaining £2,049 in the next financial year 2012 / 13.


We are confident you will be very pleased with the various activities and will be eager to get involved, as everything will be a benefit to ALL plot holders on site.





Another first was the holding of a pruning demonstration for interested plot holders to attend, with a hands-on practical demonstration carried out by Peter Major on his plot, followed by a welcome cup of tea and home made cakes at the Cabin and of course data sheets were available, compiled by Mike Lewis, to back up the demonstration.


Peter holding the secateurs along with everyone's attention






While there were still a group of strong members around after the pruning demonstration we secured a group of volunteers to help carry our new trading store from a vacated plot ........ and here it comes round the track.



Another demonstration of community spirit


All we have to do now is lay a base, renovate roof and make it secure ready for stock, which will all be done with the help of our loyal members in 2012




Steve & Marion went to a small Allotment show held in the grounds of Mill Green Museum and met someone from The Green Lanes Allotment Association, Hatfield and was able to get advice on investigating available Grants available by local Councils and we struck lucky in finding a St Albans Community Grant scheme had just been launched with a deadline closing date of the 31st October; so we had a great deal of work to do to prepare our submission by the closing date. Lynne attended a meeting for interested applicants, Joy & Steve investigated various toilet options available to our site and finally settled on a disabled access chemical toilet, which will be serviced each week by a local firm Superloo at Smallford. Steve secured quotations by a groundwork contractor and costing for the actual toilet unit, while Tom Hardy drafted the grant application and Lynne got the accounts in order to accompany the submission. Well somehow we managed to get the application in just in time (better than just too late they say) and here is our artist impression as submitted of how it will look.





 On the 22nd of November the following email arrived from the Council Community Grant department.


"Dear Community Grants Fund applicant

I’m pleased to be able to inform you that you have been successful in your application for funding from the 2011-12 Community Grants Fund of £3,789"

We have now received the Toilet Grant payment and hope to get our selected council approved contractor started on clearing the site of the soil heap, ready to have the base laid within the next few months of 2012 ready to have the toilet unit delivered and hopefully ready for action by April, the start of the new growing season.


January 2012




On the 19th of January the following email arrived from Community Action against Crime Innovation Fund (CAAC:IF)


"Dear Mr. Tom Hardy

On behalf of The Home Office, I would like to congratulate you and your organisation for being selected as one of the recipients of Community Action against Crime Innovation Fund funding."

Wow what a start to 2012, we have done it, however without the hard work put in by Tom in compiling a very detailed submission we doubt it would have been possible.


Grants appear to be like Red Buses, wait a long time and then two come along at once.

The deadline for implementing the stage one purchasing of £7,036 is the end of March, so already there is a flurry of activity going on behind the scenes by various committee members who have taken on different activities from the list.

Tom has taken on Activities 2 & 4 (along with a few others!) which are the main ones to tackle, which involve improving the perimeter boundary focusing first on known problem areas, he is being assisted by Joy who is liaising with the Council and Steve who is liaising with the fencing contractor on the best value solutions within the budget allocated.

As you can see from these photos there are many areas of boundary fence that need urgent improvement.

So hold on to your hats there is loads to do but at last we now have some funding to do it !

However it is not all boring fencing and prickly bushes, there are some pleasant surprises of items to purchase that will be an ongoing benefit to the future of the whole allotment community


Those TWO brilliant pieces of news just about rounded off what we hope you will agree was a very busy year for the SRAA and hope this review has confirmed that for the nominal £10 annual cost of your membership, not only do you get the benefit of the NSALG public liability insurance for you and anyone on your plot, combined with discount priced seeds available from Kings Seeds in October, plus a fast developing active association representing you to the Police and liaison with the Council, and all that is complimented with the use of the Cabin and in 2012 the availability of the Toilet Facility and hopefully a basic store should open. Of course, we will continue to arrange various social get togethers to further build on the growing community spirit of 2011.




We are fully aware not everyone wants to get involved in social get togethers or joining committees and use their allotment as a peaceful escape, however membership does provide many other benefits as listed above and just being a member shows the committee your support for their unpaid roles in the general running and improvement of the site for the benefit of all and allows them to keep you informed of any important matters relating to the site. So if you can please try and offer your time on an occasional basis in order to complete the improvements to the site for the benefit of all plot holders




This Review compiled on behalf of the Committee

 by Steve & Marion Davies

January 2012


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