Kettering Allotments Society

Secretary's Annual Report 2018, to be presented at the 2019 AGM

This report covers January to December 2018

The year started wet and cold, with snow and the “beast from the east” delaying Spring. Then came a long dry spell and heatwave with over 9 weeks of hot dry weather. Allotment gardeners were out in all weathers enjoying their plots.

As in previous years, our four fields are generally fully let, with a reasonable level of turnover, meaning that those on our waiting lists do not have to wait long. Clearing vacant plots of rubbish and waste (such as carpet) before re-letting them is important to give new members a clean slate, to enforce our rules and improve the overall appearance of our fields. We are grateful for all the hard work done by our stewards in this respect as well as all the other unseen duties they perform. The system of putting 100gsm weed control fabric on vacant plots continues to be successful. New members are not overwhelmed with weeds and are less likely to give up; if they do give up the following tenant has a much more manageable plot too.

Our rents remain low and allotments are very affordable The treasurer will report separately on our finances.
The committee functions efficiently. We appointed our first Data Manager (Ilona Bickle) who now assists the treasurer and secretary and advises the committee to ensure that we are compliant with the new GDPR law that came into effect in May 2018. May I take this opportunity to ask all members to keep us updated of any changes to phone numbers, emails etc, so that our database is accurate. 
One of the committee members, Brian Nix, died suddenly in September. Brian had been a Bridstock cup winner twice and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.

Security on our fields continues to improve. We purchased Heras panels to reinforce the fence at Margaret Road and these were secured thanks to the hard work of our members. These panels together with thorns and brambles do eventually provide a very good barrier at our boundaries, as has been shown in previous years. The committee is very grateful to the volunteers who erected these panels. Northfield Avenue security needs further improvement, but we have been fortunate in the offer of new gates free of charge courtesy of Network Rail in return for access when they install infrastructure for the programme to upgrade the railway line. We also obtained a few more IBC water tanks and blue barrels at Scott Road and these were sold at cost to members, further increasing our water storage capacity and reducing future water bills.

Unfortunately, despite our continued efforts to improve security, we have suffered some break-ins. Thieves with cut straight through our very expensive padlocks at Scott Road twice and removed cultivators and strimmers. Another time the thieves found a weak point in the boundary. Committee members spent time to reinforce the boundary and we paid a tree surgeon to cut some of the overgrown hedge plants down and allow them to thicken out. 
A major improvement to Scott Road has been the clearing and levelling of the main car park. Early in the year we paid KBC to heap a massive pile of tree leaves and mulch in one corner. Later in the year we were able to fill in some significant hollows and remove weeds and debris to create a fabulous space for mulch deposits from tree surgeons.  Many thanks to all who helped in this project that has transformed the car park.
We continue to be grateful recipients of tree shreddings and wood chips. Increasing numbers of members are using these and other materials as mulch. Members who mulched heavily in 2018 found that their plots did not need watering during the drought and heatwave, so saving effort and reducing the water bills of the society.

The society’s newsletter on WordPress has continued every month and has a wide readership. More members are now “following” so never miss out on news and updates from the committee. Nearly 200 people read some editions and currently 41 people are followers.

The winner of the Bridgstock Cup in 2018 was Pat Mullins. Pat was runner-up in 2017 and surpassed his previous best with the help of his grandson Ryan. The runner up was Norman Elson, on Margaret Road and the best newcomer was Sonia Wasowska of Northfield Avenue. Well done everyone and many thanks to the cup judges for their hard work.

Finally, a big thank you to all the committee members, field stewards and other Society members who have contributed time, money or labour to help the smooth running and improvement of our fields.

Russell Attwood, March 2019