Ymddiriedolaeth Rhandiroedd Dyffryn Aeron (Aeron Vale Allotments Trust) is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registered with the Charities Commission - No. 1166320.

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We hope that all visiting gardeners and allotmenteers find our pages informative and helpful, and that they become your first "port of call" when looking for information, tips, sources of advice or just simply a place to catch up on  general Allotment Gardening News.


 

As a charity we depend on the kindness and generosity of those who appreciate our work. To see how you can help support us please click on the 'Donate Now' button above. Thank you!


MEMBERSHIP registration to our web-site is for Aeron Vale Allotments Trust (A.V.A.T.)  members only.  If you are a member of the Trust or a plot-holder on any of the Trust's allotment sites then the MEMBERS AREA will have information, notices and downloads for the members. You will find your log-in details on the back page of your handbook.

ENJOY!


 

 



DOCUMENTATION

for

Allotment Group

START-UPS

 

Are you thinking of setting-up an allotment gardening group within your local community?

OR
Have you RECENTLY set-up an allotment group in your area, but now you're not sure of what's required of your committee as your membership starts to grow?

MAYBE
you're a bit nervous about how to proceed correctly and legally? Who is going to sit down to write a proper constitution for your group? Who has enough experience of the Law to draft a legally robust tenancy agreement document for your plot-holders?

PERHAPS
what you have at present is not fit for purpose. Are you sure you have the correct documentation in place?
You should minimally have a proper - legally binding - CONSTITUTION document and Plot-holder's TENANCY AGREEMENT documents in place.
Many allotment groups who run their associations or societies in a proper and professional manner also have a Members HAND-BOOK printed for all their Plot-holding members.

I joined my first allotment gardening group way back in 1976 - as an enthusiastic twenty one year old - with a young family. At the time I was living and working as an electronics engineer in Cwmbran, Gwent.

Since moving back to my native Ceredigion I have helped set-up our latest allotment group -

Ymddiriedolaeth Rhandiroedd Dyffryn Aeron/ Aeron Vale Allotments Trust which is a registered charity.

You pick-up an awful lot of experience over nearly forty years of allotment gardening!

One of my favourite quotes is:

"Gardening knowledge unshared is gardening knowledge wasted".

For that one simple reason alone, I have developed this web-site so that fellow allotmenteers can freely gain knowledge, tips and advice from it.

However, I am prepared to go much further than that, by offering any potential allotment groups a

DOCUMENTATION PACK

for their new (or existing) allotment groups where the officials may not be quite up to running speed when it comes to proper and legally binding documentation for their allotment gardening association, society or club requirements.

Please
Click Here

for more info.

 


 Gardening is always more or less a warfare against nature. It is true we go over to the other side for a few hints, but we might as well abandon our spades and pitchforks as pretend that nature is everything and art nothing. - James Shirley Hibberd

CLICK to isit our allotment & gardening FORUM

 

A Quick "Start-up" Guide to Allotment Growing

(hover your mouse pointer over the text to stop it scrolling)


The Golden Rule is - don't take on more than you can cope with. Allotment gardening is hard work and requires dedication - it's not as easy as gardening programmes make it look! But on the positive side, it's probably even more enjoyable than it looks on telly!

 

A whole allotment plot is traditionally 10 Rods square (a Rod is also called a Perch or Pole) which is equivalent to 5.5 yards. So a plot would be exactly 302.5 square yards or 279 square metres - that's about a sixteenth of an acre. It's usually rounded to 300 sq yds or 250 sq m - for ease of use - when calculating the number of plots for a given area. Having "rounded" sizes also helps when it comes to pegging out a site For an idea of how much area we're talking about here - think of something roughly about the same size as a tennis court.

 

For all - but those with the time, the stamina and self-sufficient ambitions, this may be on the large size for some beginners. A three-quarter or half-plot may be sufficient for your particular household needs. Furthermore, with huge waiting lists nationwide, splitting a whole plot, and then sharing it with the next person on the list makes good sense.

 

 

Right! Down To Work

First job? Knobble the perennial weeds (docks, nettles, couch grass etc.) before you start, particularly if you plan on growing long-term perennial crops, such as asparagus and soft fruit etc.

Fork out all their roots - not just the top bit -  but the WHOLE root. You can then smother the area with black plastic or old carpets to kill off any other less aggressive weeds and grass. You can't use glyphosate or ANY other similar inorganic poisons on our Aeron Vale Allotments Trust sites because we are committed to organic gardening methods.
If you belong to an allotment group that doesn't mind using harmful plant poisons, and your allotment association or society does not stipulate that you mustn't use chemical weed-killing agents, then use glysophate (usually found under the trade name "Round Up") or a similar preparation - be careful - you don't allow it to drift on to your neighbours' plots, where it may damage their crops or cause animosity, especially if they are sensitive to your inorganic methods. You can use a combination of everything. In extreme cases, think about covering and forgetting about two-thirds of the ground for that first season, and just grow potatoes on the remaining third. Their cultivation can help break up the soil and cleanse it of some weeds. Who said it was going to be easy?!

 

Remember that some weed seeds can remain active in soil for many years. Never let weeds grow large and go to seed - hoe them out as tiddlers on dry days. Don't put the roots of perennial weeds in your compost bin. Boundary paths are weed hotbeds too, so mow and edge them regularly. No one wants foreign-looking allotments - all concrete paths, chain-link fencing and stifling rules - but good and tidy housekeeping benefits EVERYONE.

 

 

Raised Beds

Don't be surprised if the current love affair with raised beds causes raised eyebrows among some of the old guard, who regard them as a waste of space and prefer regimented rows. Each to his/her own, but defined beds enable you to improve soil selectively, crop intensively - and with paths of (slug/snail unfriendly) bark, mown grass or even Mypex between beds, life is easier, particularly on winter-heavy soil. Don't make beds you can't reach across or you will have to tread on them; 4ft wide and about 12ft - 16ft long is regarded as a good size, while others favour smaller square beds.

 

 

Soil Improvement

This usually takes the form of an annual autumn or spring muck-spreading frenzy - it is an essential task. If your allotment association or gardening society can't organise communal muck supplies, get together with one or two plotters and share a delivery.

 

Although some enjoy the "catalogue" neatness of pristine expensive infrastructure, not spending money is actually a traditional culture of allotment growers. Most allotmenteers recycle wherever possible, often in very ingenious ways. Compost bins can be made from wooden pallets, old scaffolding boards and split tree trunks make good edges for raised beds. Ingenuity is honoured and respected amongst allotmenteers.

 

Crop Rotation and Protection is Key

As sure as God made those little green apples that give you belly ache, growing the same family of crops in the same location will inevitably lead to big problems. Certain pests only attack certain plant families. If you grow the same crops in the same soil the pests associated with that plant family will become an epidemic in that area. You may then find it very hard to eradicate them. Also, by growing the same plants in the same soil every year the nutrients that crop requires will eventually become depleted, resulting in poorer crops. There is more information on crop rotation in the "Basics" section of this web-site.

 

Pests, (particularly flying and crawling ones) can quickly get the upper hand. Hoops of hazel, cut from hedges (failing that, polythene piping from plumbing suppliers and cut to size), make good supports for protective meshes and netting. And which netting? Drapey "pond netting'' is easier to handle than that annoyingly springy nylon stuff that is hard to peg down and control!

 

 

Storage

If you live some distance away, a shed (with a water butt) is a boon, with hooks to keep tools (and that essential old fleece) off the floor. It also serves as a good cool and dark place to store crops - such as potatoes or carrots. And, (it should be added), an old chair is an essential!

 

Growing Don'ts

Don't grow too much of any one thing, get the hang of sowing seeds a little at a time every few weeks (a tough one, that - even though it's quite easy with a bit of acquired self discipline) and even if you don't practise classic crop rotation, at least don't grow the same crop in the same place twice for more than two seasons.

 

Obviously only grow what you like to eat, but there are definitely 'easy' and 'difficult' crops. Potatoes and leeks as well as onions (from sets) all belong in the easy camp. Peas and beans, too. Strawberries (netted) and autumn raspberries (no need to net) are a popular and easy must for some. Unless you live on the doorstop, grow cut-and-come-again salads at home since they need almost daily snipping. Parsnips are tricky to germinate; carrots need fine sandy soil (adding as much sand as compost before sowing helps). Without efficient mesh and netting protection ( to protect against pigeons and butterflies), don't grow any form of the space-greedy winter cabbage family. Chard and perpetual spinach, however, are long-life, relatively low-maintenance crops worth learning to love, if you don't already.

 

Free, or even cheap, food is sometimes a myth, certainly at first. Needless to say, allotment growing is more cost-effective if you buy (and share) seed, rather than plug plants. Once you are established, producing compost and saving seed from your crops, you go into a different economic league. Allotment growing is not ALL about economics anyway, it's mostly bout producing fresh, tasty, healthy and wholesome food for you and your family.

 

 

Finally, something slightly controversial:

Don't listen to the kill-joys. It is perfectly OK to grow flowers for picking on your allotment and it encourages pollinating insects. If your allotment group allows it - keeping bees is an excellent idea as they are the No1 pollinators on every allotment site in existence.




For A.V.A.T. members to access the MEMBERS AREA please click on the LOG-IN button above. Once logged-in you have exclusive access to documentation, notices, on-line voting,  copies of meeting minutes and many other downloads including a copy of A.V.A.T.'s constitution, tenancy agreement and our rules and regulations for plot-holding members . . . .  . . . . .  . . . .

Navigate our site!


This unique purple podded runner bean named Aeron Purple Star has been successfully bred by a dedicated amateur  grower in Aberaeron, Wales.  It's derived from a 'Polestar' cross. It's size & texture (fleshy & stringless) is the same as Polestar, but it is more vigorous with an improved flavour - as it matures the pods turn a deep purple.

It is only available directly from the original grower. It is not available commercially, but is freely distributed at present (as limited quantities of seeds dictate) to other keen amateur allotment growers in the UK.

Click on the arrow for more info. . .

The Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI) was launched by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) on behalf of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation in 2002.  The project is currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Fund for the Environment and Urban Life. One of the aims of the ARI is to support and develop allotments regeneration and the creation of brand new allotment sites in the UK.

This society's origins date from 1901, as a members' co-operative. The NSALG is the recognised national representative body for the allotment movement in the UK. The society is owned, managed and funded by its members to protect, promote and preserve allotments for future generations to enjoy.

STOP THE DEATH OF OUR BEES!

A plethora of recent studies from Italy, Germany, America and other countries are implicating Neonicotinoid insecticides (an insect nerve poison) in causing sub-lethal and lethal effects to honey-bees that are exposed to plants grown from seeds coated in Neonicotinoid insecticide or treated with Neonicotinoid insecticide - typically maize, sunflower and rapeseed. These sub-lethal effects, influence the bee's ability to orient itself and return to it's colony; additionally it is likely the detrimental effects are compounded synergistically as the bee is weakened and becomes more susceptible to natural disease, parasitic fungii and parasites such as varroa destructor - implicated in the world wide colony collapse disorder we are currently experiencing. Neonicotinoid insecticides have recently been banned in other European countries and are being reviewed in the US - home of the corporations who are pushing these systemic insecticides. The UK is sitting on the fence, by first complying with EU rules on a ban and then  threatening to back off!

                                                              

Nothing is more important than your health. Having a productive allotment will help toward . . .

 

A Healthy Diet

You only get dietary fibre from foods that grow from the ground. The peas, beans, vegetables and fruit that can be grown on an allotment will form an essential part of a healthy diet. Many fruits and vegetables are also very

good sources of vitamins. Food starts to deteriorate as soon as it's harvested, so obviously food that gets from the ground to your plate in a truly fresh state is of added benefit.

 

Exercise

Visiting and working on the allotment will provide valuable forms of exercise that is not too strenuous and has the added value of being out in the fresh air. The following benefits to your health can be achieved with regular allotment gardening:

  • Heart pumps more efficiently, circulation improves

  • Fitness muscle tone and stamina improves

  • Digestion and sleep may improve through increased relaxation

  • Weight control is easier

  • Emotional Health improves, you feel better, happier and more contented

Dutch researchers have found that allotment keepers in their 60s tend to be significantly healthier than their more sedentary neighbours.

While plenty of anecdotal evidence exists to suggest growing one's own fruit and vegetables protects against ill-health, no one had carried out such a direct comparison before.

Agnes van den Berg, from Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, said: "Taken together, our findings provide the first direct empirical evidence for health benefits of allotment gardens. Having an allotment garden may promote an active life-style and contribute to healthy ageing."

She and her fellow researchers polled 121 gardeners in the Netherlands, plus 63 neighbours who did not keep allotments as the control group.

Allotment gardening can be good for your well-being, a new study revealed. Experts from the United Kingdom found that allotment gardening actually helps increase a person's self-esteem, ease depression, and calm anger.

In a collaborative effort, researchers from Essex and Westminster universities interviewed 269 people, in which half of them were gardeners. The respondents who were familiar with gardening were asked about how they feel before and after working in an allotment.

The study, published in Oxford's the Journal of Public Health, found that respondents who spent as little as 30 minutes a week in an allotment experienced significant boost in their mental well-being.

Compared to those who didn't practice allotment gardening, allotment gardeners were found to have fewer problems regarding weight as their body mass index (BMI) were significantly lower. These gardeners also had lower levels of tension, depression, fatigue and anger, researchers noted.

The Origins of Allotments

In Wales (Cymru) the origin of allotments (rhandiroedd ) goes back to Romano-Celtic and possibly pre Roman times. When a person who did not possess land would ask a landowner for a small amount of land to grow food and would usually be given a talar - the strip of land at the edge of a field that was not cultivated. In return the landowner would expect the cultivators of this land to help bring in his harvest and vegetable crops - like potatoes - when the time arrived (although at that very early time the potatoes were still in south America). This tradition is still exercised in some hill farm areas to this day. It was a widespread custom up until the end of the 1950s. A variation was the tradition of helping with the potato planting in return for a row of potatoes for the worker who would lift his/ her row when the crop was harvested.

It's possible to trace the origins of allotments in England back over 200 hundred years - they derive from the enclosure legislation of the 18th and 19th centuries - and the word 'allotment' originates from land being 'allotted' to an individual under an enclosure award (Enclosures were used by richer land-owners to stop the poor grazing their animals on common land).

The most important of the Enclosure Acts was the General Enclosure Act 1845 which required that provision should be made for the landless poor in the form of 'field gardens' limited to a quarter of an acre. At this time, allotments were largely confined to rural areas.

The modern notion of an allotment came into being during the Nineteenth Century. A lot of people from the country went to work and live in towns; there was a lot of poverty.

The First World War prompted a huge growth in the number of allotments - from 600,000 to 1,500,000. After the War, many of the temporary allotment sites were returned to their original use.

World War 2 again increased the role for allotments as a major provider of food; there was a blockade from the U-boats, and many farm-workers went to the war. Allotments became a common feature in towns and cities, Dig for Victory posters were everywhere, and food production from allotments rose to 1,300,000 tonnes per year from around 1,400,000 plots - that's nearly a tonne per plot !

Today, allotments are (thankfully) again enjoying a resurgence; partly because people are becoming more aware of the benefits to their health and the environment and sadly because we are fast approaching a critical period in our economic system the World over.  Often the problem however, is where to find land to cultivate.

Looking for a plot in your area?

It can be quite a daunting task, but they are available, if you're new to the game then get some tips by clicking on the arrow on the graphic to your right.

Most allotment sites are run by councils, but they don't have the total monopoly, some farmers have land available, and there's other disused land sometimes available from churches, railway companies, or someone like the National Trust (although that often depends on the NT local manager's attitude towards allotments - which isn't always great).

 

By PETITION

Your local council has a statutory and therefore MANDATORY obligation to provide land for allotments under the provisions of section 23 subsection (1) of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908.

Click on an icon below to download a PETITION Template compiled by the Aeron Vale Allotments Trust that you can use freely for your own purposs:

Open Office .odt format MS Word .docx format MS Word .doc format

Your petition only requires a minimum of six signatures to be valid.


Our Allotment Garden Friends

The value of allotments is considerable - they provide the opportunity for eating healthy, locally-produced food, for healthy exercise and for youngsters to learn that food actually comes from the soil, not a supermarket shelf!

Food produced on an allotment is food you can trust. You know what, if anything, it has been sprayed with. You know if it is genetically modified (GM). You know what varieties you have grown, so hopefully you know it will be tasty and nutritious. Most certainly you know that it has been produced locally, so it has not been driven, or worse, flown for hundreds or thousands of miles, producing air pollution and greenhouse gases. What better reasons for growing food on an allotment!

But you don't even have to rent or work an allotment in order to eat the food. Many allotment sites now have shops where you can buy the excess food produced by plot holders. How much better to spend a bit of your money helping out the plot holders of your local allotment rather than the directors and shareholders of the big supermarkets!

We  know that ALL fellow Allotmenteers are our friends, but the friendship doesn't end there! We also have a host of friends that are sometimes ignored and unsung, or worse still, even shunned by some who may not be aware of who their friends and who their enemies really are. We all know the real enemies - those pests that compete for our crops. However in our hurry to exterminate those pests we sometimes overlook what effect this can have on the long term. By destroying the pests indiscriminately ourselves we often deprive their natural predators of food. The predators decline and the pests increase, starting another round of an unending battle to rid ourselves of slugs, weevils, aphids, greenfly etc. etc. until in the end the only wildlife on our allotments are our pests!

Allotments are not only places of escape for people, they also provide valuable havens for a variety of plants and wildlife by providing a natural environment. If you want to keep your allotment as natural as possible, the first thing you should do is cut out the toxic chemicals.

Most of the toxins found in pesticides are non-specific meaning they kill friend and foe indiscriminately. The knock-on effect of this is that the next wave of pests that arrives has a free hand and can multiply unchecked, meaning you will have a worse problem than you started with!

 Why are allotments good for wildlife & wildlife good for allotments?

Whatever you choose to grow on an allotment, you can minimise harm to wildlife and maintain natural balance on your plot by using organic methods. A compost heap is both garden and wildlife friendly. You can use the well rotted compost to nourish the soil and the heap can provide shelter for insects and other small animals. Hedgehogs sometimes shelter in compost heaps and will help to eat the slugs and snails which prey on plants. Soft fruit bushes are fantastic for birds such as blackbirds and thrushes, though they may be stripped of raspberries and currants before you have time to harvest them yourself! Some allotment associations don't allow these fruits to be grown. Companion planting is a natural way of maintaining balance and reducing unwanted pests. Plant marigolds next to tomatoes, for example, as they produce a scent that deters pests such as Greenfly and Blackfly. Nectar loving insects such as bees and butterflies will also benefit from the flowers.

Ponds are a wildlife magnet and are allowed on some allotments. Make sure that if you have a  pond that it has a sloping edge so that animals can drink and climb out easily if they fall in.

If you really want to encourage more of the right kind of wildlife, there are several steps you can take to create suitable habitats. One is to create space for wildlife on your own plot; the other is to create a communal pond within the wider allotment area on an unused patch of land (unless you have a very large plot, you are unlikely to be able to sacrifice the space yourself). A pond will provide a watering hole for a range of beneficial wildlife, while also boosting the local frog population, some of the best slug predators there are!

Threats

There are a number of threats to wildlife in allotments for a number of reasons:

  • Lack of understanding of wildlife potential

  • Excessive use of herbicides and manual clearing of weeds - which are also wild flowers

  • Use of 'metaldehyde' slug pellets which also poison hedgehogs, etc. Ironically, hedgehogs are gardeners' friends as they eat slugs and other animals which threaten crops!

  • Excessive tidiness

  • Possible lack of education and therefore good practice in terms of recycling, air and soil pollution from fires, toxic wood preservatives and water preservation

  • Lack of resources available for allotment maintenance and improvement (in comparison to other priorities).


Organic pesticide suppliers (external site link) Pest control tips pop-up (allow Pop-Ups in your Browser) External site link PDF document (reproduced from the original) Click for info. (external site link)

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