Loughton Potato Ground AGM 2020

 7 November 2020

Dear Loughton Potato Members

Welcome address by the Chair

In past years I would have stood before you at our AGM in St. John’s Church Hall and talked (some might say too long) about the year’s overview at Loughton Potato Ground. I would have talked about the joy and pleasure of working our plots, and the weather that had been record breaking in some way. Maybe the success or not of my horticultural endeavors or how much we enjoyed our LPG summer picnic. Perhaps reporting a petty theft or congratulating Brian Smith for another win for Best Allotment in Loughton? 

However this year has presented us all with challenges around keeping those we love, and ourselves, safe and healthy. 

As we are unable to meet in person for the AGM I am sending you the minutes of last years AGM and this years reports from the committee. These reports represent the past year at LPG. However if you have any questions you would like to ask the committee please email lpgallotment@gmail.com and we will endeavor to answer them. 

During the first lockdown LPG saw more people being able to regularly work their plot and enjoy distanced socialising, as well as the fresh air and exercise they were getting. Plots therefore improved and the site generally looks good at the moment. 

There were no plot inspections this year – we recognised that some people were self isolating or caring for family members and so were unable to come to LPG as often as they may have wanted. 

I am pleased to report that committee members have agreed to remain in post, with the addition of two co-opted members – Andrew Haley and Andrew Hodson. The committee going forward are: 

Gil Cooper Chair, Jan Boucek Treasurer, Sandra Geraghty Membership Secretary, Tony Quinton Groundsperson, Committee Members: Eileen Arrowsmith, Andrew Haley, Andrew Hodson and Lesley Southgate. 

I feel very lucky we have been allowed to continue visiting our allotments during Covid. I believe this year has fostered camaraderie and friendship between plotters and bonded people closer together. 

The fees for plots this year will remain at £25 regardless of size and are payable during November. This year, online payments can be made by Bank Transfer or by cash and cheque to the Treasurer's address (see finance report page 2). 

There are many people to thank for volunteering during this year: Brian Smith, Jim and Eileen Arrowsmith, Paul Geraghty, Paul Davis-James, Sandra Geraghty, Matt Carleton, David Shipp, Jan Boucek, Helen Robertson, Tony Quinton, Ken Booth, Clive Foyle, Andrew Hodson, Lee Schlesinger, and Hari Singh. If I have missed anyone, my apologies. It is due to the help of volunteers that the allotments are in such a good condition this year. Everyone’s contribution is much appreciated. 

Gill Cooper
Chair, and on behalf of the committee

Financial Report for the 2020 Annual and General Meeting

Financial Statement for Fiscal Year Ending 31st March 2020

Biggest expenditures: 
  • Skips: £500
  • Lawnmower & hedge trimmer: £468
  • Insurance: £376
  • Horsetail treatment: £294
  • Plumbing works: £169
Expected expenses in the current fiscal year: 
  • More horsetail treatments
  • New gate on path to Goldings Hill
  • Plumbing works
  • Boundary hedge cutting
Current cash balance: £3,920

LPG fee payments
  • Annual fee remains at £25 per plot
  • Fees payable by 30th November
  • £5 penalty for payments after 30th November. Plots lost for no payment by Dec. 31.
  • Payment of fees:
    • Cash or cheque posted or delivered to Jan Boucek at 26 The Summit, Loughton, IG10 1SW. Please identify the plot holder and plot number when submitting payment. Cheques should be made out Loughton Parochial Charities.
    • BACS Transfer: HSBC, Sort Code 40-30-25, Acct #71150871. For the reference, please put LPG Fee followed by your plot(s) number and surname. Eg: LPG Fee 17 Boucek or LPG Fee 17T 17B 18 Boucek
The LPG’s finances are in good shape due to our fee increase to £25 coupled with a higher take-up of plots. This is allowing us to spend more money on the horsetail infestation, skips and much needed hedge-trimming and other maintenance. We’ve also got a solid reserve in case of unforeseen emergencies. This all means fees for 2021 will remain at £25.

Jan Boucek

Membership Report

Since November 1st 2019 we’ve had 6 new members, 5 of which joined us when the lockdown was lifted in the summer. No plots were shown to anyone from the 16th March to the end of May. 

We had excellent results for tidy allotments as we were fortunate enough to be allowed to still work our plots during lockdown. There were only two members that we know of that were in total isolation and their plots were left unattended for several months. We gave them a chance to come back but unfortunately they had to give up their plots in the end. 

There are only two vacant plots (one of which is earmarked for someone who currently has Covid 19) and the other which will be used for our volunteers to house foliage from the clearance of a pathway which runs from Goldings Hill to LPG. This will be let as soon as it has been cleared. We will be asking for volunteers to help with this work. 

We have a healthy waiting list and will be welcoming more new members very soon. 

Sandra Geraghty
Membership Secretary

Grounds Report

Like your own plot, maintaining and managing the allotments is a never-ending task. There are regular tasks that need to be done every year such as keeping the paths, drains and boundary clear. In addition are ongoing tasks such as managing the Horsetail plots.

This year has been particularly challenging for everyone. Unfortunately, it meant we were unable to hold any volunteer work parties. Having said that we have got many things done across the year. From small to large tasks, regular to one off. The cost of undertaking the work would be prohibitive without plot holders volunteering their time to help.

This year amongst other tasks we have:
  • Undertaken regular mowing of main Paths (Brian, Tony).
  • Provided multiple skips (Jim).
  • Cut back hedge along Whitakers Way (Tony, Paul, Sandra Helen, David).
  • Cut back the Stony Path hedge (Andrew, Clive), Golding Hill path (Matt, Jan, Tony), Firs Drive Hedge (Tony, James)
  • Cleared the drain & maintained water flow (Tony, Nick).
  • Cleared and reestablished overgrown plots (Helen, Paul, Tony).
  • Cleared, sprayed and covered the Marestail plots (Andrew, Clive, Gill, Tony).
  • Sorted out the leaky taps (Lee)
  • Moved tons of wood chip.
Particular thanks to Brian’s volunteer group, who spent a day reestablishing the Baldwins Hill boundary. This involved cutting and clearing brambles, bamboo and other vegetation across the top of three plots. Whilst moving significant amount of rubbish and avoiding two ponds. The two photos below give a sense of the amount of work they did. Thanks to Paul, Sandra, Brian, Matt, Andy and Jan for helping on the day and clearing up afterwards.

Thank you to anyone we have not mentioned, your help is gratefully received.

Cutting back the bamboo

Looking back through the "tunnel"

A particular focus are the HorseTail plots. The good news is that this year the growth was significantly reduced compared to previous years. However we should not be complacent about the ongoing management of this & it may be some time before we can start using the plots.

A reminder: All plot holders are expected to contribute to the maintenance of the plots as part of the rules:

2d) Although the mowing of many paths and the trimming of some hedges is arranged by the LPG Committee, all pathways and hedges are the ultimate responsibility of the plotholders adjacent to them.

We are looking for more people to join the allotment volunteers to help with the bigger tasks. Some of you may be able to commit to taking on a certain section of path or hedge, others happy to be contacted about volunteer workdays, or one off tasks. Please contact us via the LPG email or in person (Tony plot 29/30) and we will add you to our list.

Plans for 2021

The plan below outlines the main tasks that are undertaken each year to maintain the allotments.

HorseTail plots management plan:
  • Jan / Feb – clear plots of dead material and old stems.
  • April/May – mark/monitor spread of horsetail growth.
  • June – spray once horsetail shoots are 15-20cm high, growth should be killed in 2 weeks.
  • August/September - Rake the dead vegetation and dispose of it.
  • Oct / Nov / Dec – Cover plots with wood chip to reduce photosynthesis.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is extremely hard to control. It has an extensive root system (up to 100m across and 2m deep). Horsetail can spread via spores (on the shoots, the fir tree like plants are sterile). Shallow, occasional weeding is not effective and the plant can regrow from any small pieces left behind. Tools used on the plots should be cleaned thoroughly before using them elsewhere.

The most effective control is using regular re-applications of herbicides. Cultural methods can be used alongside this. It grows in any conditions, so liming the soil has limited effect. Cutting back can reduce its growth and covering with a thick layer of material (for 24 months) may exhaust its reserves.

1. Horsetail Plots
2. Monkchester Close Drain
3. Goldings Hill entrance
4. Main Paths (mowing)

A) Baldwins Hedgeline
B) Whitakers Way Hedge
C) The Summit Hedge
D) Firs Drive Hedge
E) Monkchester Close Hedge
F) School hedge
G) Wroths Path Hedge
H) Stony Path Hedge
I) Trevelyn Hedge
J) Alms Houses Hedge