The Caretaker Principle
We have all come across a kind and genuinely caring caretaker. Perhaps we have also met caretakers who didn’t really care? The following saying attributed to Chief Seattle in the nineteenth century comes to mind “we do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children”. This sentiment guides our approach to the planet, its soil, air and water. It is also the underlying principle behind our allotment rules and tenancy.
We do not own our allotments. The land is owned by Kettering Borough Council (KBC) on behalf of the people of Kettering to be used for growing crops (food and flowers). We have the enormous privilege to be able to rent our plots at a very low price. We have a corresponding duty to take care of the land for future generations of gardeners; hence we are caretakers. None of us lives forever, so we should think about those who will come after us to enjoy the allotments in decades to come.
Examples of being a good allotment caretaker include:
- Controlling weeds and preventing weeds spreading or producing seeds that will grow in the future.
- Removing carpet or other toxic and hazardous waste that has found its way onto allotments.
- Composting crop residues and weeds and maintaining soil fertility, avoiding fires,
New Policy on hard standing drives and car parks
In view of the Caretaker Principle outlined above the committee has adopted a new policy and will propose it as a new rule at the 2021 AGM. The new policy is that there should be no new hard standing driveways or car parks on plots. Existing driveways are not affected.
The committee has noted that several plots now include a car park. This has reduced the area of land available for growing crops permanently. On one field the total area lost is more than a 10 pole plot. The committee decided that this will be unfair on future generations as there will be less land available.
Allotment waiting lists rising since lockdown
Kettering Allotments Society has also experienced longer waiting lists. At our last count there were more than 90 people waiting for plots. Stewards have been working hard to check on under-used plots and those overgrown with weeds. Some of these overgrown plots are rented by members who have been shielding or self-isolating and quarantined. When this is the case, we have been more lenient than usual. Where there is no good reason for the plot being under-used, stewards have started the process of eviction, which takes some time as it is only fair to go through due process. As soon as is reasonably possible the plots are re-let to the person at the top of the waiting list.
Hazard of the Month – Aspergillus spores
These fungal spores are easily breathed in and may cause serious lung disease. The spores are produced in some compost and mould. They are common at our allotments in any piles of shreddings, for example the shredded tree branches we sometimes use for mulch. If you notice clouds of dust-like material coming from these shredded trees, you are at risk from breathing in Aspergillus spores. The safety measure to follow when using such compost is to WEAR A MASK; this will prevent or reduce the spores from entering your lungs to infect you. See British Lung Foundation or NHS website for more details.
Mayor Presents Prizes
The Bridgstock Cup was presented to this year’s winners by Keli Watts, Mayor of Kettering on Sunday 23rd August. Keli also presented prizes to members whose plots were highly commended and the best newcomer. Keli was given a tour of Scott Road field and enjoyed the occasion, despite a heavy shower of rain.
Storm damage at Windmill Avenue
On August 25th Storm Francis brought strong winds and heavy rains to large areas of the country, including Kettering. A tree was blown down at Windmill Avenue and damaged the fence. The committee will now look at ways to repair or replace the broken fence and make the area safer. Meanwhile, please take extra care around this area.
Transforming an overgrown plot – latest
see the latest progress on this overgrown weedy plot by following this link and scrolling down. No digging, no watering and a healthy crop of pumpkins developing using mulch…
Michael, a member at Scott Road has tried solarisation for the first time. This uses clear plastic close to the soil to kills weeds and soil diseases. Solar power does the work. The plastic works like a very powerful greenhouse (remember that dogs die when locked in cars; the weeds die when cooked under sealed plastic). It is important that the plastic is tight to the ground so the heat builds up. See the photo below. Works best in summer.