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News & Events: Blog2

AGM 2023




FLAG AGM January 24th 2024 at St Michaels Parish Centre, 7.30pm.


Minutes

Present – Bob Grover (57), Richard Cloutman (32), Nigel Gale (5W), Liz and Tim Leicester (31W), Ann Rogers and Nick Lemon (15W), Barry Cropper (35E), Maurice Lyon (35W). Brian Songhurst (21N), Guy Marshall (16), Chris Moss (36W), Ron Askew (49S), Kevin Withers (27), Gemma Brown and Ally (Alison) Turnbull (39W), Fiona Carey (29W), seventeen in all.

Apologies  Liz Rolfe.

 

Introduction – Generally the site is in good condition, lots of good things were done over the year, despite the less than ideal growing conditions. Onwards and Upwards in 2024!

 

The AGM minutes from 2022 were approved. Last year Barry did a summary of potential NSALG potential benefits to our members, Bob apologised for not following it up then. Barry said it was still relevant, Bob will circulate it after the AGM minutes to see if there is interest in doing more with them.

Barry has clarified that NSALG discounts/benefits are available to FLAG members via the Quarterly magazine (in the clubhouse and online). 

 

Report: Membership & Treasurer (previously circulated)


2023 has been a record year for membership. By the year’s end we had 78 fully paid-up members occupying 86 plots (68 members, 79 plots for 2022j) with about 9 plots not members. As a number of new plot holders started quite late in the season last y2ear it was decided to extend the initial membership period to 18 months for those joining in the second half of the year.

A healthy balance of £932 was carried over from the previous year. Major items of expenditure have been, as usual, our insurance policy and NAS membership fee. 

We have made several purchases for the site, a brand new strimmer, a pond liner, mower repairs and fuel. An old mower and strimmer were sold on eBay for £86. 

We also received an RHS grant of £175 for which Liz Leicester will be providing further details. The year ended with £1,139 in the kitty.


Report: Committee (previously circulated)


Over the last year, FLAG people have put in a lot of (mainly hidden) work to make the site a better place to grow things. Some of these are listed here. Please see if you can offer some time to help us do it next year as well, or even better.

 

Joint Allotment Meetings. Tim has been meeting with other sites across St Albans to make sure the Council and Phil Bruce-Green in particular understand our concerns and needs and to allow us to work with them to improve allotment issues. This ranges from encouraging moves to smaller plot sizes to allotment provision in the revised local plan.

 

WildJAM. Liz meets with this cross-city group working to improve and coordinate our overall Green-ness and Rewilding work.

 

Site water supply. Nigel has helped the Council with replacing the stopcock system so it isn’t wasting water and they can actually turn it off in the Winter. We have replaced several leaky taps around the site.

 

Inspections. Nigel walks round with Phil Bruce-Green on his site inspections, then shows new potential plotholders and advised them how to get started.

 

The communal compost heaps continued to be well used, both for the depositing of green waste and the sifting and removal of well-rotted compost. There are still too many twigs and small branches finding their way into the heaps. As this wood takes a long time to rot down separate twig and branch piles have been created. As always a big “thank you” to Jim and his mini digger and to Richard, Brian and Tim for keeping an eye on all the heaps.

 

Bagged compost by the steel shed. A working party filled and moved some bags from our well-matured heap, to make it easier for plotholders to get compost to their plots. 

 

We had a Barbecue.

 

We had two Bonfires (only for non- compostable wood though). We are piloting reduced bonfires with other material being diverted to beetle stumperies, or dead hedges for insects  or bio char production  or stove usage. All these aim to improve CO2 capture and retention.

 

Ann organised the purchase and delivery of over 200 bags of bagged compost from Ayletts.

 

Open Gardens Day. Tim planned site visits for interested outsiders as part of ‘Sustain St Albans’ where several plotholders showed their particular methods of growing things.

 

Biodiversity and Bioblitz days. Liz organised special visits by Nature professionals to help us assess what lives on site already and what we might do more. 

 

We dug and filled a Pond, as part of our Sustainability ambitions, managed by Liz.

 

Tools. Brian maintained, repaired and rebuilt our various petrol tools (and sold off some old ones). A brand new strimmer was purchased as the cost of continued repairs to the old ones was becoming uneconomic. 

 

Food bank. We delivered trays of surplus produce every week for six months.

 

We started organising monthly Site Tea And Knowledge Sharing sessions (STAKE). These will restart in the spring. 

 

New for 2024? Most of the 2023 activities will be needed in 2024, who would like to help? We would like to have Working Parties to:

  • sort out the Town end green waste bays and manage the compost bins regularly

  • help clean up plots for new tenants (things like pulling out metal post bases), 

  • another communal pond would be nice

  • and your ideas please! 

 

Tim, as Council Liaison, told how the Joint Allotments Group represents most of the town’s sites collectively to the Council. This includes the ongoing rents, reducing the cost of the site maintenance contracts, provision of new allotments in housing plans and more.

 

Nigel, as Site Steward, described the problems that arise when a tenancy declines and ends, emphasising particularly the need to improve the condition of most plots once abandoned  and before they are fit for new people to take on.

He also talked about ‘downsizing’ plots to help some people cope, getting more smaller plots, and being more robust in helping some people to manage their plots to a tolerable standard. 

Discussion included : FLAG might organise ‘the hire of a man with a digger for a weekend’ to work on several plots who would agree to share the cost. 

 

We thanked Brian for his Tools maintenance and updating work.

 

All officers were re-elected.  

 

End of formal AGM.

……………………………………………….

 

Discussion

First items are specific proposals, the general WhatsApp / WP discussion at the end. 

 

Compost Bays and Jim’s digger offer.

Our compost bays are all made from organic matured green waste from our plots. You can use this for all mulching and regular plantings. AND IT’s ALL FREE!.  (You might want to add a supplement (blood fish bone / chicken pellets / manure) for specially needy plants). 

Jim has offered to come for a Saturday morning with his digger to work with a group of us on the bays. This will be a WP as below. 

 

 Work is mainly needed on Town end bays, which really need a Bay manager of their own (to coordinate local WPs), needs to be a nearby plotholder. Nigel will try to find one or two by emailing all plotholders at that end of the site, to invite views and seek volunteers to act as Bay managers / organisers.  Brian has offered to help here.

Discussion - FLAG might organise ‘the hire of a man with a digger for a weekend’ to work on several plots who would agree to share the cost. 

Garage end  bays are already well looked after by their users. Richard & Tim organise most of it.

 

Bird- and Bat- (and Owl-?) boxes – DIY WP. Bob will try to get access to Abbey Theatre workshop tools to cut up appropriate wood into ‘box kits’ from DIY designs. Liz and Bob will do a WP to assemble these. Funding for wood from the RHS money already received.

 

What is a ‘Good Plot’? What does an Inspection look for?

We will send Tim’s summary of council rules (email 25th 10.11 am to c’ttee) as a separate note to all plotholders soon. 

 

Garage End Gate Lock action. Nigel has a new one from Phil Bruce Green and fitted it.

 

Working Parties (WP).

Our obvious need for Deputy Site Stewards was broadened out to cover the offers of help for the wider use of WPs. Everyone present is keen to help/organise/assist with WPs. 

 

How best to manage these? 

We already have a WhatsApp group which seems the right vehicle, if it can be managed. Pending that getting fully off the ground, we will continue to use FLAG emails.

 

FLAG AND WHATSAPP  (from Brian and Ally)

We currently have 2 WhatsApp groups - Equipment Maintenance and General. Brian and Ally agreed that we would consolidate this into one general FLAG group which would enable members to communicate on all matters including calls for help on working groups. Brian will close down the Equipment Group and Ally will take over the administration of the general FLAG group. Ally may decide to break this into subgroups at a later stage if that is helpful. Ally will share more later via the website.

The idea is to use it to be able to set up a working party easily, just a few days ahead, when a need arises and someone from FLAG is willing to organise it.

 

e.g. I can do a bonfire Saturday week; …start a clean up on plot 57S for new tenant (dig a bit);…prune some trees on 57 and 58; etc

 

When this gets going we will do a monthly summary, past and planned/hoped.

 

ENDS

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