Minutes for PPAA Committee Meeting held on 13th March 2023 at 19:00 by Zoom
Present: Richard Masterman (Chair), Sue Jones, Dan Philips, Wendy Gunter (Treasurer)
Apologies: Alan Coombs
Matters arising from the Committee meeting 7th February 2023 addressed as the agenda.
Richard had attended the Site Reps meeting 15th February 2023 and had circulated notes.
It was noted that allotment committees do not have authority to intervene with any potential dispute and only the Council can adjudicate and implement disciplinary action.
The Allotment Officer had also stated that “associations” could not take on a plot without express permission from the Council.
Covered by agenda items.
Wendy confirmed she had updated the account and repeated her request that plot holders identify bank transfers with plot number and purpose of payment: ie: subs, shop, polytunnel.
Plot re-inspection and termination notices
Monitoring of previously noted overgrown plots to continue and nothing to report from the Council regarding issue of notices.
Clearance of overgrown plots and vacancy list
Great work carried out over the last few months.
Sue reported that there is currently only one plot available. All others now occupied.
Management of trees and hedgerows
Richard reported that he had recently received direct emails from two concerned plot holders regarding protection of wildlife habitat. The Committee confirmed that it was fully committed to preservation of habitat and diversity of wildlife and Richard would respond to the plot holders on behalf of the committee.
It was agreed that whilst management of “wild” common areas of the allotment is essential any future work of significance would be discussed and agreed prior to implementing.
It was agreed that a winter work plan would be developed for future seasons.
Seed potatoes and shop
Richard reported that sales of seed potatoes had been popular and additional stock had been purchased.
Two new puncture proof wheels have now been fitted and new plywood sides are being constructed.
The trolley is now functional again.
Stone wall repair
Following a very helpful meeting, work to repair the stone wall damaged by a fallen tree could now be planned. Thanks to Richard Staniforth for his time and expert advice.
Frost has damaged the above ground pipework to two troughs. Sue agreed to source a plumber to repair.
Dan confirmed that construction of 6 No. new grow beds was now mostly complete and a delivery of compost to fill the new beds was expected shortly. All beds have now been allocated.
Existing compost heap
The large heap of waste material adjacent to the old shop building had been explored by a plot holder for usable compost and, whilst it is contaminated with non-degradable items including glass and plastic, if carefully riddled it provides excellent material which is available to all plot holders providing that care and appropriate PPE (stout boots, hand/eye protection) are employed.
AGM and Plant Sale
Date for AGM to be agreed. 2nd, 16th or 30th April 2023 suggested.
Any Other Business
Nothing further to report
Date of next meeting
19:00 Tuesday 4th April 2023 on site or Zoom.
Site water has been turned on.
After repairing some leaks, the Site Volunteers have turned the water back on, but there is further work to do.
The Council – presumably for public health reasons – arranged for all the troughs to be fitted with non-return valves to prevent any back-siphoning into the system if pressure were lost. However, the present Committee were not informed of this work. Back-siphoning is impossible anyway, as the whole float valve body is well above the overflow level of the trough in every instance on our site, so they can never be submerged.
The contractors apparently did not do this work with e.g. rugged soldered copper pipe and fittings, but with plastic and push-fit, and the new work was not lagged against frost. The extended period of freezing temperatures before Christmas had, it appeared, resulted in some split pipes and forced joints. There is a further problem in that the new valves require pressure to open them, leaving even less to operate the float valves, in turn meaning that some troughs fill even more slowly than before – the site being fed from a regulated, low pressure source. There are, however, solutions to these problems, and Site Volunteers are addressing them.
A programme of insulation and other work will now be undertaken, so could all plot holders adjoining a trough please kindly ensure that access is not hindered by encroaching compost heaps or by other material – thank you one and all.
Wild plants – danger to pets and to children.
We have received the below message from a plot holder, who wanted awareness raised re this plant. It raises the issue that – like many wild plants are – what is an important source of food for one animal may be poison to another. Hopefully, as dogs should be kept on a lead whilst on site, and children under parental supervision at all times, any accidents can be avoided.
“I just wanted to get in touch as I’ve noticed the spring growth of Lords and Ladies / cuckoo pint / arum maculatum around the site (especially at the foot of the hedgerows and entrance from Western Avenue), and also noticed two rodents a couple of weeks ago – (who like to eat the berries of it). I have read that it’s extremely poisonous to animals and humans (but not birds and rodents) and people should avoid including it in composting, so just wanted to draw attention to those things. We have a dog so I’ll be removing it from the discontinued industrial sized composting heaps at the entrance to our plot, and will take off site and dispose of elsewhere.”
Sincere thanks to this plot holder – PPA Website Team.
Help for charity
PPA Website Team were asked by FoodCycle, Riverside to publicise their work, and to ask that if anyone has any surplus produce, then this charity would be very grateful for it. They would also welcome any volunteer help. They have a branch from 27 03 23 in Ely too.
The Website Team are pleased to do this.
The things that sometimes meet volunteers. A tale of everyday life on PPA site…
For some years, the door to the Bring And Take Point near the Western Avenue gate had been wedged open with a piece of natural stone – or weathered concrete maybe (a geologist was not consulted). However, one day that just disappeared, and so the Site Volunteers replaced it with a building block. Within twenty-four hours that too had disappeared, and so they tried a traffic cone – maybe more than one – which lasted the relative eternity of about thirty-six hours before also vanishing. Next, they tried driving a piece of scaffolding into the ground for nearly all its length, leaving only a few inches exposed to stop the door – and yes, you guessed. It really must have taken some vehemence and determination to wrench the best part of a yard of it out of the ground, into which it had been sledgehammered too. So they – the patient souls that they are – tried an even longer piece, leaving even less exposed, only with exactly the same result. (Ordinary folk can only wonder, as to the degree of fixation and obsession on the part of the vandal or vandals at this point, we’d venture.)
The rather attractive and charming hand-written sign on a slate was also broken during this time, after which even its pieces “evaporated”.
Whatever, more recently, a traffic cone appeared – not placed by the Volunteers – to hold the door open, and it’s remained there for some time, so let’s hope that someone has finally got bored of their rather bizarre hobby.
Nonetheless – sharp-eyed as ever – in passing recently a Volunteer noticed something orange through the winter sparseness of the beech hedge, and on a closer look it was plain that most of the missing items had been launched over it and into the brambles on the park side, to join all the other stuff thrown over. If – dear reader – you’re stuck for something to do, then you could name and tot up all the offences committed so far. (If you’re really stuck, that is.)
Here are the things, having been retrieved, though we’re still missing one piece of scaffold:
When paying by BACS could you please kindly reference what the payment is for. A lot of payments for £5 are coming in, but unless you reference what for then I will have to assume they are your subs. All I need is your plot number and what for, i.e. subs, shop, polytunnel etc.
Treasurer, Pontcanna Permanent Allotments Association
The maintenance of security fencing, walls etc., is, under the Local Management Agreement the Council’s responsibility. However, despite reminders from PPAA, owing to funding shortages, backlogs etc., this work has now been outstanding for some time.
Therefore PPAA intend shortly to use the services of an artisan waller to rebuild part of the wall with Llandaff Fields, where a quite large tree had fallen and damaged it.
It’s expected that all of the loose stone lying near to the wall will be required for this work.
However, PPAA Committee are aware that at least one plot holder had removed some of this stone to decorate a pond, and they’ve now been asked to be so kind as to replace it, though so far to our knowledge that has not yet happened. It’s understandable to a degree that someone could mistakenly believe that the stone isn’t needed, but that’s very much not the case, so could everyone please kindly not touch any of it – thanks all.
For the sake of avoiding any misunderstanding – engendered by inaccurate hearsay – we would clarify that no one has been told by anyone that they cannot have a pond – quite the contrary – they are very welcome for the wildlife that they support and for their pleasant appearance.
Another related matter is that there’s a temporary pile of plant matter – removed during plot clearance by PPAA volunteers – adjacent to the wall close by. Its removal and treatment involves significant expense and effort, and so all are reminded that we’re required to compost on our own plots or to remove from site our own such material, and that adding it to the said pile or to others would simply be fly tipping on Council property.