Friday, 11 April 2008

Plots marked out

11 April 2008
So much has happened in a few weeks!
  • We have almost completed the legal negotiations with the Cotswold District council, and the Kemble Parish council over the use and lease of the land. We have formal permission to get stuck in - so we are.
  • We now have a draft constitution, so that can be 'a body', and thus open a bank account, sign a lease etc. The next step is to have this approved and create a short list of 'dos and don'ts' for community and allotment holders.
  • With the help of about 20 people, Travis Perkins and Kemble Farms, we have cleared a significant amount of brambles to create cleared areas for a few allotments, and a community area.
  • Several allotments have been marked out, and a few hardy souls have started to break the ground, despite the seasonal weather of snow, hail, strong winds and even sunshine!
  • Kemble Farms have delivered an enormous pile of manure, which we will use tomorrow , together with the cardboard from Travis Perkins, to create a mulch layer to supress weeds and plant potatoes through.
  • Malmesbury Garden Centre has advised on the fruit trees that we uncovered, whilst Ray Hawes from the National Trust has identified the other trees. The purpose of this is to help us decide what to prune, clear and keep.
  • The Gardeners at Highgrove estate has offered to give us some advice on organic planting, and some seeds too - which we will do our best to grow and keep alive. We have also received the encouragement, and practical donation, from HRH Prince's Trust! Wow! Apparently pigs are what we need to break the ground and dig up the bramble roots! Not sure yet how to accomplish this realistically.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Real progress taking place!

Feb 23rd
Work day to clear site. 27 people in total (including 5 children and two teenagers) visited/supported/worked at different times throughout the day.

Brambles were cleared and tea, homemade biscuits and cakes consumed! Sheers, secateurs, loppers, scythes, machetes, brush cutters and a lawn mower were used to do the work and big piles made for burning. One of the apple tress was pruned to improve yield and accessability.

Feb 24th
A small group worked to rake and burn the piles of brambles with advice from visiting fire man!

Feb 25th
Meeting of Focus group at Tavern pub. Discussed aims of the project and ways forward. Six new people had heard about the meeting and joined us to find out more!

Feb 26th
Travis Perkins contacted to say they would like to support us with equipment and labour.

27th Feb
Gabi and Sara attended Kemble Garden Club meeting to update the group about our project. Stayed for talk on propagation by Jenny from Malmesbury Garden Centre.

Feb 29th
David from Travis Perkins and who lives in West Hay visited the site with Sara and Gabi to discuss what TP can do to help us. They can offer to clear some of the brambles with a small digger which would be a compromise between doing by hand and using a tractor. They may also be able to support us with some equipment.

March 1st
Site meeting to plan and design with Alison. Seventeen of us attended, toured the site with maps, marking where trees are and jotting down ideas of where things might best go. After this, Alison led a smaller group in an exercise using a large outline of the area and post-it notes to make a design for the possible layout. Five of us plus dog went to the Tavern for lunch with Alison.

March 4th

Gabi visited Malmesbury Garden Centre. David Butcher offered an expert to prune the fruit trees and to pass in our direction anything which becomes unsaleable, ie: split bags of compost, out of date seed, plants past their best for sale, etc. Any purchases from the shop will be discounted (not discussed further so no idea what %)

March 5th
Martin Hutchins from CDC visited the site and talked with Gabi, Sara, Jan and Witheal about the possibility of getting permission to carry on clearing brambles before the birds start nest building in the brambles.

March 6th
Alison Ensor sent her design plan/proposal to CDC

March 7th
CDC agreed verbally that we could continue to clear brambles subject to a bird survey to make sure nest building had not started. Permission would be confirmed in writing.

March 7th
Gabi arranged for Gareth – a bird expert - from Cotwold Water Park to spent an afternoon observing the site and he did this and submitted a detailed report of bird activity and other wildlife. It seems we would be safe to clear more brambles at the moment as the birds who nest in brambles are only displaying, not building yet.

March 10th
Witheal was contacted by Prince Charle’s estate manager in answer to the letter Witheal had written on behalf of our group. HRH wants to support our project with a donation and may possibly be able to help in other ways!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Progress diary by SaraL From thebeginning to Feb08

4th September 07 :
Sara visited site with Rosie Wooley from Glos Wildlife Trust.She thought there was great potential for both allotments and wildlife area.

7th September:

Attended Parish Council meeting to propose idea. PC was encouraging and very positive. Suggested a leaflet be circulated round the village to explain idea and gauge interest and invite to a meeting.

27th September :

Visit to Glos Community allotments with Gabi S. to meet Alison Ensor and discuss their project. Very informative and inspiring.

29th October

Meeting in village hall to estimate interest. Twenty three people attended! All very interested in the idea of allotments, wild life area and community orchard. We had an informal brainstorming session (big sheets of paper, big pens!) to come up with other ideas. Everyone filled in a forms to show interests/skills and whether they would be part of a more 'active' group which would be a driving force behind getting things done. (several people backed off at this point understandably, but a really good core of people came forward). Hopefully this will continue.

14th November :

Meeting with Roger P – chair of the Parish Council – to discuss and ask some questions. We are naturally concerned that the land, whilst vacant at the moment, may get taken back by the council if they want to build on it. Before putting in lots and lots of physical and emotional effort, we want some written reassurance that the land can be used by all the villagers of Kemble for the foreseeable future, if not for ever.

SaraL wrote to CDC to ask for confirmation that the land could be used as:

  • a general community space (eg BBQ);
  • community allotments eg for the local primary school children and the Brownie group to learn where food comes from private allotments; for the local garden club etc
  • as private allotments of various sizes
  • to reduce waste disposal by having a community compost area
  • to encourage wildlife and biodiversity by having a separate wild life area that can be used by local groups and children
  • and to reduce food miles by growing our own stuff!

23rd November Attended PC meeting to report on allotment meeting and discuss further.

25th Nov Held a general meeting on site to look at land and discuss. Only a small number of people attended in comparison to the original group that met at the village hall in September - but enough to be encouraged and keep going.

Notice in Parish news to keep the village informed about what is going on (or not) on project.

Jan 2008 Email and message from CDC to confirm go ahead for project!!

Feb 2nd 2008

Meeting on site to look at land and come up with ideas, followed by first focus group meeting. 15+ people attended the site meeting and 12 met at Jan and Witheal’s house to take the project forward.

Starting to get organised now - we knew that we needed to get people committed to giving up their time and energy - so roles were assigned – chair, secretary, treasurer, legal specialist, PR person, site manager etc. and specific action points agreed. Let's see if we stick to these!

Feb 3rd

Email to John Birch at Cotswold District Council to ask for length of time in writing, size of land, fees to be charged etc.

Feb 9th

We need help! This is too big and complex to do on our own, however enthusiastic we are. We don't know anything really about how to start, how to keep on going etc. There must be other people like us (and there are!)

Site meeting with Alison Ensor from Glos Community Wildlife Trust. Mark, Freddie, Jenny, Fiona, Jan, Gabi, Matt, Sara attended the meeting and toured the site with Alison who listened to our ideas and gave advice on the best way to proceed sensitively and sustainably. Photos were taken by Gabi’s partner for a press release to the local paper. Alison agreed to be our consultant, produce a design for us and help us on work days. By taking on this role, she can us our project for an assignment for her diploma in Permaculture.

Feb 11th

Spontaneous meeting on the site initiated by Matt and Gabi because of the lovely weather to start clearing brambles. Glen and Jo with Jacob and Jade, Gabi, Matt and Sara made pathways through the brambles using sheers, scythes, secateurs, a machete and loppers. Managed to join up some areas and make more accessible.

Press release to Parish news

Feb 12th

Gabi, Marj, Marjorie, Sara, Freddie met to cut more pathways. Marj and Marjorie cut a path through the brambles from their back gate and made us a cup of tea!

Gabi bid successfully for a ride on lawn mower on ebay which she will use to help cut paths!

Gabi put a wanted message on freecycle for a number of things we need.

Feb 21st Photo and article in Standard about project asking for support in form of sponsorship or equipment or labour

Feb 22nd

Gabi and Sara attended Parish Council meeting and discussed project. PC very supportive and agreed £1000 funding. Proposal/plan to be sent to CDC for approval and to secure written agreement of lease.
Feb 23rd
Work day to clear site. 27 people in total (including 5 children and two teenagers) visited/supported/worked at different times throughout the day.
Brambles were cleared and tea, homemade biscuits and cakes consumed! Sheers, secateurs, loppers, scythes, machetes, brush cutters and a lawn mower were used to do the work and big piles made for burning. One of the apple trees was pruned to improve yield and accessibility.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Getting Started

A group of local residents of Kemble had a dream:
  • eating fresh vegetables, picked every day;
  • group BBQs with friends;
  • a quiet space in the sun to read peacefully;
  • not having to pay extra for compost or garden waste collection
...and the kids wanted pigs, chickens and a place to make dens without anyone telling them off for making a mess.

So we are going to try to make it happen.

Meeting with the parish council - I really hadn't realised how easy this was! You just turn up! We discovered that if 5 or more residents ask for an allotment, the council is obliged 'to consider' it.

So, Sara put notes in letter boxes around the village.

Like most small communities, it is surprising how few people want to get involved in things - especially if it means doing anything that involves giving up their time. Most things around here get about 10 people interested - usually the same crowd of folk end up running around after everything (playgroup, school, litter picking etc).

There were over 40 replies to the allotment idea! Best of all, they were from a wide range of ages, families etc, and lots of new faces too.

The parish council never had so many people exercising their democratic rights before!

We met in the village hall, and wrote down a list of all the things we really wanted.