Garthdee Allotments

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Tag: RGU (Page 2 of 3)

IYN Assessment Report

iynJim Henderson, our It’s Your Neighbourhood Assessor has passed on his assessor report. It makes very good reading. Jim visited our site in early August and was clearly impressed with many of our activities: he awarded us a second to top-level grading and considered us to be ‘thriving’.

DSC_1904It is clear that all our allotment holders have contributed to this success for GFAA as Jim  remarked on the big number of well looked after plots he saw as well as the well maintained communal areas of our site.

Here are some highlights from the report:

We scored 32/40 points for community participation with special mention made of help for novice plotters; our community orchard; support for TAMS; the RGU connection; social and communal activities to maintain the site; and our occasional training courses.  

IMAG0218We scored 25/30 points on evidence of environmental responsibility, getting a special mention for our promotion of composting; waste management; encouragement of educational projects from primary to university level; use of natural materials and approaches to deal with problem areas; encouragement of wildlife with bird feeders and insect boxes around the site.

Gardening achievement scored 25/30 with praise given for the variety of fruit, veg and flowers grown across the site; the sharing of advice and plants; development of wild flower areas; and the use of small plots to help new plotters.

Picture 606Jim indicated he looks forward to seeing more of the exciting new project with Broomhill Primary School and the raised bed plots planned for development with RGU in the Community access area. His score of 82/100 leaves us within striking distance of the ‘outstanding’ level on our very first attempt, so we have a clear target for the coming season.

A big thank you to all who contributed to this success on their own plots and on communal areas and to our principal partners, including the City Council and RGU. It is very pleasing to see our combined efforts recognised within the IYN scheme and we hope this success will encourage even wider participation and more new projects in the coming year.

RGU Invitation

Mhairi and the team over at the RGU Community Garden Project are holding a little get together at the garden on Thursday, 14th of August from 4 – 6 pm and have kindly extended a welcome to all GFAA plot holders.  Here’s what they have planned – it sounds great!
In full bloom

In full bloom

We are holding a wee bash down at the garden to say hello to new volunteers, say thanks to our more weather worn gardeners and just generally celebrate the lovely spot our community garden has turned into.
Everyone is welcome, including new visitors!
The plan is to hold a pot-luck, so please bring some food or drink if possible; although, we promise not to turn you away at the gate if you turn up empty handed.
You are welcome to come along and simply enjoy the good eats, great company and beautiful surroundings; but for those of you looking to get crafty and creative we will have a range of activities on. Depending on what folk are interested in these can include:
Scarecrow making
Making nettle string
Up-cycling wood pallets
Designing a vertical veg garden
Creating a sculptural centre piece
Wild food/foraging walk
We have said the party will take place between 4 and 6pm but feel free to turn up earlier or stay later if you wish. We will most likely be pottering around in the garden before hand.
Everyone is welcome (very much including other plotters on the site) to get involved, or just pop along and say hi. There will no doubt be a plentiful supply of tea, coffee and baked goods!
The RGU Community Garden is on the plot to the South East of the site – just head for the new and impressive polytunnel!
RGU Community Garden

RGU Community Garden

First Class News from RGU

Plotters will remember a few months back being asked to help an RGU student, Brittany Forbes, with her Honour’s Degree Project in which she tried to quantify the health and well-being benefits of working an allotment.  Brittany has been kind enough to send a summary of her final report and it brings good news.

A comparison of fruit and vegetable consumption and wellbeing in allotment holders and non-allotment holders

While there is some research to show that allotment gardening has a beneficial effect on general health and wellbeing, there is currently little quantitative evidence in the UK to support this. The aim of this research was to assess fruit and vegetable consumption and general wellbeing in allotment participants and non-participants. A paper based questionnaire was sent to 468 Aberdeen City Council allotment holders with a second copy of the questionnaire for a matched control (a friend or colleague of the same sex, age and postcode, who does not grow their own produce either on an allotment or in a garden). A total of 104 questionnaires were completed and returned (11% response rate), with 45 pairs of questionnaires from allotment holders and a suitable matched control . Allotment holders (n=45) reported consuming more fruit and vegetables habitually, a median of 7 portions from a 24 hour recall, compared to the 45 matched non-allotment holders who reported a median of 6 (p = 0.01). In addition there was a statistically significant higher proportion of allotment holders consuming the recommended 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day compared to non-allotment holders (p = 0.03). Allotment holders reported higher satisfaction levels regarding time spent outdoors, exercise and diet as a whole compared to non-allotment holders. However there was no significant difference with satisfaction of other aspects of wellbeing, such as weight and life as a whole. Overall, the present research highlights the potential contribution of allotment gardens to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

I am pleased to report that Brittany’s interesting study helped her gain a First Class Honours Degree. Thanks to all GFAA members who acted as a focus group as part of her research design activity or completed and returned her questionnaire.

RGU Plot Update

Our relationship with The Robert Gordon University and its Student Association continues to flourish. The Student Plot took a major step forward in the last week or so with the delivery of 100 tons of topsoil to raise its level and help with water-logging.

Green-fingers to the fore...

Green-fingers to the fore…

This weekend some of the student team were hard at work creating beds in preparation for sowing and planting.  We all know just how much work is involved in taking over a new plot and wish them well for the future. They are off to a flying start.

Further information on the RGU students’ sustainable community garden project is available on the RGU website.

Old clipping from the help received by Students from the Scott Sutherland School

The following has been found in the ‘Nexus’ newsletter produced by the Robert Gordon University, edition January/February 2012.

Page 4 from NexusJanFeb201222-4


Minutes from the General Meeting on April 17th 2012

Gathdee Field Allotments Association


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.


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,.


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.


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.


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.

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