Kirtlington Allotment Association (KAA) Committee 2022/23
Chairman: Mark Foster
Treasurer: Suzie Tomlin
Secretary: Judith Vickars
Members: John Harrison, Briony Enser, Steve Vickars, Roger Honey.
Comments or questions are welcome.
Plot rental in 2022/23
In 2022/23 there were 48 tenants and rents were again held down to be as affordable as possible at £8.00 for a half plot and £5.00 for a quarter. Any villagers seeking an allotment can ask the secretary to check for upcoming vacancies and put their name on the waiting list. (All plots were occupied as at October 2022).
The 2022 year on the allotments
In 2022, the season began well and allotment tenants donated produce for the Village Fete in June. Climate change then delivered a long drought and 35-degree-centigrade temperatures in July and August. With regret, the planned produce sales for August and September were cancelled as there was so little produce. Nevertheless, in October, the indomitable plot holders triumphed over the climate and delivered a final, very successful produce sale for the year.
In recognition of the challenge presented by the lack of rainfall and record-breaking heat, the Allotment Committee began plans to increase the water supplies for 2023. The first aim was to improve the capture and storage of rainwater. A hidden leak in the linked rainwater collection system at the south end of the allotments was fixed and the water tanks were separated to fill independently. Plans were also made to separate the linked collection tanks at the north end of the allotments by fitting independent guttering to allow them all to collect water independently and fill up completely over the 2022 winter.
The Committee also plans to pursue future-proofing the allotments against climate change, by investigating the viability of a mains water supply, to be activated in times of drought as a backup. This could be supplied at the cheaper agricultural tariff, but it would, be a significant investment. Before pursuing this further, an approach has been made to Thames Water in the first instance for an estimate of the potential costs of installation, supply and standing charges.
New Allotment Facebook page for 2022
The Allotment tenants are a sharing, supportive and sociable group who regularly swap ideas, advice and plants while digging and weeding their plots. Since July 2022, there is also an Allotment Facebook page for those tenants who wish to chat, share information and seek advice online.
History of the Kirtlington allotments
The site of the allotments, to the west of the Crowcastle Lane bridleway, has probably been home to allotments for more than 200 years. It is likely that the allotments here date back to the reign of George III when much of the land in Great Britain was enclosed following the Inclosure Act of 1773. We know for certain that in 1811 an Act of Parliament was passed specifically relating to Kirtlington; ‘An Act for inclosing lands in the manor and parish of Kirtlington in the county of Oxford. This Act allocated the parish lands and former common land to named local people. We also know from early maps (including those found elsewhere on the Kirtlington website) that the total area of the allotments was at one time considerably larger than it is today. These early maps show the allotments stretching northwards as far as St Peter’s Cross, where the Crowcastle bridleway meets the course of the former Roman road of Akeman Street. Roman coins are said to have been dug up there in earlier times, but none have been found on the allotments recently unfortunately!
The present-day allotments
The plots cultivated now tend to be smaller than they were in the past when full plots, measuring 10 pole in imperial units (around 25 square metres), were rented. Currently, the overall allotment area of 32 full plots is divided in to smaller units. Most of the plots are let at half this size and some are let as quarters. In this way, when plots become available, even people with busy lives elsewhere can still enjoy the benefits of cultivating their own produce, but on a smaller plot.
An Allotment Committee manages the allotment site with the environment in mind and individual plot holders are encouraged to do this too. For their part, all tenants sign a formal Tenancy Agreement that details the rent to be paid and the terms and conditions of their tenancy on the maintenance of plots, the use of equipment, the responsible disposal of allotment waste, e.g., by composting, and on being good neighbours with other plot holders. The Committee holds an Annual General Meeting in Spring every year to which all the allotment tenants, and any prospective plot holders are invited. During the year, the Committee also meets on an ad hoc basis to check plot maintenance and to address issues that arise, such as necessary repairs to the equipment supplied for tenants’ use or to the allotment infrastructure.
Each year, the Committee aims to hold a produce sale in August, September and October with any surplus produce. These sales raise funds and villagers can purchase fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruit and flowers, and home-made preserves. Plot holders donate their surplus produce and the proceeds are divided between village charities and funds to purchase and maintain equipment for the allotments. Tenants are also encouraged to share their surpluses with each other and the ‘Help yourself’ area has proved very popular. (There is also a seed exchange box when the mice haven’t eaten them all!)
Areas around the periphery of the cultivated allotment plots are managed as wildflower meadow, and the Committee is very grateful to Kirtlington’s Wildlife and Conservation Society for their assistance with this, and to the committed team of volunteers who scythe these areas in the Autumn each year.