Gathdee Field Allotments Association

DRAFT

Minute of the Garthdee Field Allotment Association (GFAA) meeting held in room H405,  Robert Gordon University Faculty of Health and Social Care, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen on Tuesday 17th April 2012.

Attendees:

Stuart Oram (Chairman), plots 8 and 56, Gavin and Tricia Bell, plot 7A, Rupert Hunt, plot 73, Richard and Susan Powell, plot 96B, Bruce Taylor, plot 79, Paul Moody, plot 99, Len Campbell, plot74, Michael Clark, plot 60, Lynn Clark, plot 61, Ken Locke, plot 20, Brian Bryce, plot 38, Carlos Galan-Diaz, plot 29, Allan George, plot 98A, Mike Fairhurst, plot 6, Marian Hart, plot 88,.

Apologies:

George Tulloch (Deputy Secretary), plot 41, Ranald Cameron (Treasurer), plot 75, Ian Shand, plot 28, Dee Henderson-Haefner, Orchard,  Martin Walsh, plot 94 Carrie Watt, plot 2A, Michael Hart (Secretary), plot 88.

Introduction:

The Chairman welcomed everyone and opened the meeting.

 1. Minute of meeting held on 15th November 2011:

The Chairman asked everyone if the had a chance to see the minutes for the meeting of 15th November 2011 and asked for them to be adopted. The minutes were agreed.

 2. Matters arising from the previous meeting:

The Chairman reported that progress had been made with all the outstanding actions from the previous meeting, namely

a). Proposal for automatic membership:- Stuart Oram reported that this has resulted in an increase in the number of people who have now formally registered with GFAA.

b). Marking of plots:- most allotment holders are complying with the requirement to have the number of their plot clearly marked. Those who have not yet done so are asked to do so now.

c). Briefing for new plot holders:- this is now being attached to the information that Aberdeen City Council sends to those people who are allocated a plot at Garthdee Field.

d). Bulk seed purchase:- Richard Powell reported that we now have 22 registered members with the Marshall’s seed discount scheme. Only nine however, have used the opportunity. Richard felt that this was a little disappointing and also noted that not all of the seeds on offer are discounted and that dispatch can sometimes be slow. The system will be evaluated and refined for next year.

e). Supply of manure:- Stuart Oram reported that we now have a source for manure and that this is being well used by plot holders.

f). Entrance/exit:-  It was noted that Councillor Ian Yuill had followed up our concerns with the Council and that we have been advised that in order to improve visibility some trees would have to be felled. It was agreed that this should not be done and that the use of a convex mirror should be investigated. Stuart Oram agreed to follow this up.

3. Proposed federation for Aberdeen City allotments:

The Aberdeen City Allotments Representatives Network has been discussing the possibility of forming a City wide federation for all of the allotment sites and allotment holders in Aberdeen. Stuart Oram quoted from the last meeting of the Network and noted that the Council are investigating the possibility of another organisation managing the allotment sites across the City. It was also noted that the Council has joined the National Allotments Forum. Some discussion took place and the meeting agreed that we must continue to be involved in the development of allotments in the City and to ensure that our opinions are heard at City level.

4. Orchard update:

The Chairman brought the meeting’s attention to the improvements that have been made to the rough area that was left by the contractors. The ground was levelled by a contractor provided by the Council and the ground was prepared for seeding by allotment volunteers. The grass seed has now been sown and this area will be further developed in the future. Stuart informed the meeting that Dee Henderson-Haefner who has been taking care of the orchard area is unwell at present and that we shall need to make sure that the area is maintained meantime. The meeting wishes Dee a speedy recovery.

5. Treasurer’s report:

Our treasurer Ranald Cameron was unable to attend this meeting but had reported that we have £607 in the bank and we have a few small items of expenditure coming up such as fuel for the lawnmower, weed killer and material for filling the potholes. It was noted that the recent membership donations had raised this sum and that we need to continue to raise funds. A monthly raffle has been proposed and we need some people to organise this. Names to Stuart please.

6. Allocation of plots:

Ian Shand was unable to attend this meeting and the Chairman reported that all of the plots at Garthdee Field are taken at present. This has been achieved through Ian’s close work with Pat Wilson when vacancies arise. An inspection has recently taken place by the Council and four letters have been sent out to let the plotholders know that their plots are not up to scratch.

     Starter plots:

The Chairman has written to the Council and raised the issue of the number of people on the waiting list and the need to provide more plots. Stuart also questioned the use of the term “Micro Plot” that the Council use when referring to the GFAA “Starter Plots” Stuart informed the meeting that the Council has replied through Sandy Scott stating that the Council’s policy was to sub-divide the plots when existing holders felt that a whole plot was too much for them to manage. They would then be given the option to downsize to a “Half Plot” or a “Micro Plot”. The Council has stated that this will help to alleviate the pressure on the waiting list. The Council have also stated that they want the “Micro Plots” to be occupied on a permanent basis.

Following some discussion the meeting agreed that GFAA want to maintain our “Starter Plots” for the use of people who are allocated a plot at Garthdee Field from the Council’s waiting list. The purpose of the “Starter Plot is to allow people to assess their own abilities and preferences and to decide whether they would be best suited to a full sized plot, a half sized plot or perhaps even a quarter sized plot. Once they have stated their preference and providing that they have demonstrated their ability to manage a “Starter Plot” then we can move them on to an appropriate sized plot when it becomes available. In short, we want our “Starter Plots” to remain as “Starter Plots”.

With regard to the size of the waiting list and the need to provide more allotments for the citizens of Aberdeen GFAA feel that the way to do this is to allocate more land for allotments and not to use sub division as a method of reducing the waiting list. It was agreed that we should approach our new Councillors on this issue following the Council elections in May.

Stuart also added that plotholders should approach a member of the Committee in the first instance if they are experiencing difficulties in managing their plot. There are a number of options available to help plotholders over the short or long term.

8. Possible plot for disabled people:

It was noted that Phil Carver from RGU is developing work on an allotment in the RGU campus with a view to improving people’s wellbeing and increasing their level of exercise. Stuart Oram feels that we could do something similar at Garthdee Field for disabled people. Following some discussion it was felt that we could set aside an area for raised beds and that this approach might attract funding to promote more work with disabled and to provide facilities for disabled people. It was agreed that Stuart should approach Phil Carver with a view to working in partnership with RGU on this.

9. Communal work on the site:

It was noted that a number of communal tasks had taken place recently including the work on the preparation of the orchard, the clear out of the compost bins, filling holes in the driveways and levelling and seeding the rough area. The hard work that volunteers have put in to these projects has been very welcome and has helped to improve the quality of provision at Garthdee Field. Please don’t be shy when you hear that there is a piece of communal work to be done. Your contribution is always welcome. We are aware that some people may not have a lot of time available to volunteer but every little helps and is appreciated. There are three communal projects in the pipeline. These are:-

a). Cleaning out the bothy – a date will be announced. Please check your e-mails, or the notice board, or our website for more information.

b). Bonfire to get rid of accumulated combustible items on people’s plots. (Not plastic or toxic items). – This will take place on Saturday 21st April weather permitting. Ken Locke will supervise this controlled burn.

c). Rubbish removal – A suggestion has been made that we provide a skip for the collection and removal of large items that have accumulated on sites or that have been left by allotment holders that have moved on an are no longer of any use. The cost of a skip is quite substantial and Stuart Oram has been quoted £180. Concerns were raised regarding people accumulating rubbish and perhaps becoming dependant on the Association to provide skips for its removal. It was felt that this should be a one off event and that allotment holders should be expected to be responsible for the removal of items that they bring on to the site and no longer need. It was agreed that Stuart looks for the best deal and takes this forward. Once again please check your e-mails, or the notice board, or our website for more information.

Plan for a BBQ site in Garthdee Field:

Carlos Galan-Diaz reported that he has spoken with Alan Watson, Jonathan Scott and Bruce Taylor from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and he is keen to work in partnership with us on this. Projects of this nature may help to attract Climate Change funding in the future as it builds/strengthens relationships with the wider community. It may be some months before the students can provide a plan for the BBQ area and initiate the build. Meantime we should ensure that the Council approve of this project. If so then we should prepare the base and hard stand area.

Social activities:

Stuart Oram noted that the proposed Easter egg hunt was not a great success but we shall continue to work on social events. As Dee is not well Ben Mellor will co-ordinate the social activities meantime. Anyone who would like to assist Ben please get in contact.

AOB:

1). Measuring of plots – The Chairman announced that the Council wanted to accurately measure all of the plots at Garthdee Field. The Council have someone to do this and it was felt that we could also collaborate with RGU on this. Bruce Taylor stated that the students at RGU would still like to be involved in a full survey of the area. Bruce will follow this up.

2). Membership – it was noted that 62 allotment holders have filled in and returned the membership form. That is 61% of our total number of allotment holders. Please remind your neighbours and friends who have an allotment in Garthdee Field and have not yet returned a membership form that the Association is here to represent them and to improve the facilities. Their commitment as a member will help us to move forward.

3). – Richard Powell raised the issue of the damage to the South East corner wall caused by a motor vehicle. It was noted that the Council were aware of this damage and the meeting hoped that the damage would be repaired before further deterioration took place.

4). – Brian Bryce informed the meeting that outline planning permission had been granted to build 65 houses on the land adjacent to Garthdee Farm. The proximity to Garthdee Field was causing some concern to our allotment holders and it was hoped that the Council would not be tempted to use any of the allotment site to enhance the housing project. This might put our partnership projects on jeopardy and have an adverse effect on fundraising ventures.

The meeting was closed and Stuart Oram took the opportunity to thank Phil Carver for arranging the venue at no cost to the Association.