Grow Greener with Garthdee Field Allotments Association

Tag: sustainability Page 1 of 6

Encouraging Biodiversity

GFAA recently submitted a proposal to Aberdeen City Council for a project to enhance the biodiversity of our site. I am delighted to say that ACC have enthusiastically encouraged us to go ahead. Read on for more details.

Background
We propose to develop the under-used area positioned in the North-West corner of our site to create a wildlife-friendly habitat which will enhance the biodiversity of the local area. The area chosen was created when the contractors constructing the Pitfoddel’s Station Road pedestrian track and cycleway deposited waste materials (mainly rock and sub-soil) in the corner of our site. The resulting raised area (which we have named, “The Mound” is unsuitable for vegetable cultivation and has remained unused for many years.

Features
The development will include some of the features listed below, the exact number will be dependent on the availability of space and suitable locations. (Where features cannot be incorporated into The Mound suitable alternative locations on the Garthdee Field site will be sought.
• Native flowers and shrubs
• Log piles
• Bug hotels
• A wildlife pond
• A wildflower area
• Nest boxes
• Bat boxes
• Hedgehog huts
• Squirrel feeders
• Bumble bee nest boxes.

Benefits
Projects to encourage biodiversity were recommended in our recent Green Flag Assessment and this development will strengthen future Green Flag applications.
The creation of a larger habitat will enable greater variety of species to utilise the area than would be possible in the fragmented small-scale areas developed by individual plot holders.
The habitat created will provide a valuable learning setting for visiting primary pupils and youth groups.
The intended features will be attractive and beneficial to pollinators, birds, amphibians, hedgehogs, insects, bats and many other species.
Development and maintenance of the mound will deliver engagement opportunities working with nature over a wide range of skill sets for members of site’s volunteer group.
Creation of The Mound and its subsequent population by wildlife may act as a stimulus to other plotters to develop areas within their own plots thereby increasing the overall habitat availability on the site.

Management
The Mound Project will be led by Steve Jennings, the GFAA Committee Member charged with responsibility to lead and coordinate our efforts to enhance the biodiversity of our site. In the first instance we will fund work from our GFAA income and reserves, but we may seek external funding in the future.

Maintenance
The area will be maintained by our resident Volunteer Squad and/or interested plotters as coordinated by Steve Jennings.

Health and Safety
The area is already fenced on 3 sides and a new fence and gate will be constructed to manage public access. Visits by external groups will be supervised by a member of the GFAA Committee.
All works will be completed in accordance with Aberdeen City Council’s policies and procedures and in alignment with GFAA’s Volunteers’ Health and Safety Policy.

Visits by external groups will be risk assessed and monitored.

Further Information

Steve Jennings will be delighted to receive ideas for development or offers of help, or to provide further information on the project as it progresses.

Soil improver delivery

Soil Conditioner Arrival

The Volunteer Squad was on hand to help today when Angus Craig arrived with the expected 130 plus bags of soil conditioner.

Here’s how Angus describes his product:

I have some 100% natural soil conditioner that I’ve been using on our farm and at home in our poly tunnel seeing great results. The conditioner is a by-product of the Buchan Biogas Anaerobic Digestion plant that is on our farm. The conditioner is made from precision chopped plant matter which has had the methane gas extracted from it to supply Peterhead homes with domestic gas. Meaning the conditioner is 100% renewable and better for the environment than artificially produced soil conditioner whilst still providing high levels of NPK. 

The conditioner is a great source of organic matter, ideal for improving soil structure and improving plants ability to hold on to moisture. 

This is the only soil conditioner of its kind for sale in Scotland which I am selling for £4 a bag. So far I have had a few big orders a bit further afield than Peterhead, however if I can fill my trailer I am willing to deliver further afield within Aberdeenshire. It would be greatly appreciated if you could pass on some of this information to your plotters.

Kind regards, Angus Craig

Plotters who missed out on the original offer are welcome to contact Stuart Oram (Plot 8) with new requests as we may well have another delivery in the weeks ahead.

The Garden Jungle

This is the title of a newish book (2019) by Dave Goulson, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex. It’s subtitled, “Gardening to Save the Planet” and that pretty well tells you what to expect.

This is no dull textbook however. It’s a lively read and full of unexpected and practical ideas as well as lots of good humour.

I was surprised to read for example, that the Oxford Junior Dictionary has removed the words, newt, acorn, minnow, kingfisher and dandelion. Why? Because these words are no longer considered relevant for children.

It seems to me this is a mistake on so many levels, it’s almost criminal.

Photo Credit: Phil on Plot 35

Amazon Link if you want to know more.

GFAA CCAF Benefits

Following our successful application for funding from the Community Climate Asset Fund (CCAF), we have been able to purchase a small wood chipping machine and ten rainwater storage tanks.

The wood-chipping machine has so far proved useful in our community garden where the prunings from the orchard have been converted into wood-chip. It’s a dinky little machine and will only accept single stalk branches with a diameter no more than two inches.

A number of our Volunteers have been trained in its use and have agreed to process suitable materials throughout the year ahead. This will reduce the amount of brush material we have to burnin site.

All ten rainwater tanks have been allocated to various plots on site with some being used to collect water from sheds or greenhouses and others just free-standing with an open collector arrangement using polythene sheet to capture the rainwater as the pictures show.

If further funding opportunities arise we would hope to acquire more rainwater tanks to meet demand

IBCs for Water Retention

Collecting rain water on our plots makes obvious sense. Some plants prefer rain water – blueberries for example. Having water on a plot is a time and effort saver. With conservation in mind, we ought to avoid using mains water if we can.

A system to capture rain water from a shed or greenhouse is the best way to passively fill an IBC or water butt. However, this may not always be possible or practical and if so, an arrangement like this can work well.

IBC Rain Water Collection

In this case pallet wood was used to create a rectangular frame sitting atop of the IBC and a sheet of polythene with a hole cut in it added to collect the rain. There’s enough polythene to drape into the IBC and the central weight keeps it in place in high winds (for months a brick served the same purpose). This arrangement has the disadvantage that water does not flow into the IBC until it rises above the lip of the container’s mouth.

This example has all of the hallmarks of my usual careful approach to fine woodworking, my high standards of engineering and my impeccable cleanliness, but in my defence it has worked well over five years or so – in that time the IBC has never been empty.

Construction excellence at every corner

You are welcome to come by and see it in place on Plot 81.

However, Gavin on Plot 7a has raised the bar with his new version of this solution which addresses the shortcomings of the above. Gavin is happy for you to come see the construction details.

Blue Skies Thinking – a ‘floor’ with a drain hole has been added
Plug perfect – held in place with a suspended weight and sealant
Storm-proofing restrainers

Gavin intends to add guttering and a downpipes to capture additional rain off his shed.

Update:

This video includes the suggestion that the whole top be cut off the IBC to achieve catch the rainwater and offers some larger scale options including using a pump.

This video offers ideas for using solar power to pump water from an IBC around an allotment.

If you have another ideas please let us have the details.

Tool Repair Service

Plotters will know that our Volunteer Squad does all sorts around our site and helping (in special circumstances) on individual plots.

I’m pleased to say that Gordon Bennett is turning his skills to tool repair and refurbishment on our behalf.

Better than new

If you have a special tool (hand tools only please, no power tools) in need of TLC, or a broken tool that could be repaired and put to community use, please have a word with any member of the Volunteer Squad (Anne, Plot 92a, Ron 65a or Norman Plot 81). We will be pleased to look at it.

Gordon goes hands on

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