Our 7.5 acre allotment site is already a haven for wildlife. We have insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals living on our site. Habitats include native hedgerows, a wildlife garden and pond as well as the river and the riverbanks. And we have created a hundred different habitats for them on our plots. We also have a lot of grass. We have grass paths, we have grass around buildings, along hedgerows and we have grass on our plots. Mostly we cut it so that it is neat and tidy.
These neatly mowed grassy areas could be little mini meadows. I’m not suggesting we give up cutting the main paths and lawns, but by mowing a bit less this spring and summer we could give clover, buttercups, dandelions and more a chance to flower for pollinators like bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths. This will bring more pollinators to our plots and may increase our harvests. And we can enjoy seeing which flowers emerge to add some natural joy and colour to our site!
So, over the next few months as we work out which areas are best to leave to grow wild you will see signs like this popping up around the site. If you can think of any potential Mini Nature Reserves, let the committee know.
Yesterday we held our Annual General Meeting. We looked back at the society’s achievements and our finances since the last AGM and agreed the accounts and appointed the auditor. We also agreed our priorities for the forthcoming year:
to continue the Community Spruce programme, including refurbishing the Clubhouse; painting and cleaning the communal facilities, to refurbish Clive’s Kitchen; subject to securing grant funding/fundraising upgrading the plant nursery. We will continuing to enhance the facilities for wildlife and bees to make our site even more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
to update and agree our governance arrangements. We will appoint additional Trustees and set up a quarterly Trustees meeting to scrutinise the site finances and governance. We will revise the Tenancy Terms and Conditions and the Constitution in preparation for signing the new lease with the council.
We also agreed that we would rename the Clubhouse, the Tom Douglas Clubhouse in recognition of the contribution that our Trustee and former Secretary has made to our allotment site, as well as to allotments in Bromley and beyond. We will have a formal opening ceremony once the refurbishment work has been completed.
Having agreed our priorities the committee stood down and we held an election for the new committee as follows:
Chair: Linda Phillips MBE
Secretary: Jeannette Henderson
Treasurer: Tony Danford
Committee: Margaret Anderson, Naslie Brazao, James Edmead, Anne Fautly, Yasemin Kozan, David Leach, Judith Sidaway, Elmer Terry, David Tutt.
We would like to thank those members who stood on the committee since the last election and welcome new committee members.
We would also like to thank James Hilsden of LB Bromley and Patrick Phillips of Idverde for helping with our election administration and for Tony Chase, of BALGF and Jeff Barber of NAS for attending our AGM and for the advice and support they have provided.
Established in 1930, the Associate of Honour is conferred on persons who have rendered distinguished service to the practice of horticulture either as employers, or employees during the course of their working life. The number of Associates of Honour may not exceed 100 at any one time.
Linda, who has been on the management committee at Dorset Road Allotments for over 15 years and was elected Chair in 2018, is also the director and founder of the London education and environment charity Roots and Shoots.
After graduating from Kew in 1981 she was was appointed by the Lady Margaret Hall Settlement, a South London charity, to set up a project in response to concerns about young people in Lambeth and Southwark leaving special schools with little hope of employment.
Using horticulture as the medium of education, Linda founded Roots and Shoots in Walnut Tree Walk, Kennington in 1982 to nurture and train local young people in all the practical and other skills they needed to enter wider life and employment.
During her 36 years as director, Linda has transformed a polluted site into a UNESCO-award-winning wildlife garden and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation; she has developed the horticulture-based training for young people at Roots into an international exemplar of best practice, flexible and strong enough to thrive and grow through political and financial turmoil and she has opened Roots to the local community to become a well-known and well-loved part of the Kennington landscape.
She was awarded the MBE in 2012 for services to young people and won two gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show in 2013 and 2015 collaborating with Pennard Plants.
Linda said: “I think horticulture is a fantastic tool to enhance the lives of so many people. Our students have had difficult lives, and horticulture stabilises and strengthens their physical health, calms and regulates their emotional experience and nurtures and develops their inner lives and aspirations.
When students leave Roots, they are ready to handle relationships, employment and life in the wider community.”
As well as being the Director of Roots and Shoots, Linda also takes a hands-on role at Dorset Road Allotments. She has been our main fundraiser for many years and she willingly shares her horticultural knowledge with members. Linda has even been known to make tea for volunteers at our community events!