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sirpsycho
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Joined: 15 Mar 2010
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Location: Stamullen, Co Meath

PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing is, this plot of land in Balbriggan was cultivated before the Council got it. It was an over-grown Brussel Sprout field for a year or so, but then someone was brought in to clear the site and separate it into plots. At this point, I have a feeling that was when it was stripped of topsoil instead of being ploughed. A bit remiss of the council to let this happen and to happily take people's hard-earned cash.

I was speaking to a local firm who rent rotavators. The guy was telling me that he rented the tillers out to people on the new allotments and the blades were coming back all bent and out-of-shape from the poor ground - people were having trouble digging it first!
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Dirt Digger
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Location: Raheny, Dublin 5

PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I’ll have to be careful, lest what I am about to say is perceived as me having an axe to grind, or as simply wishing to have a pop at some council body because I am disenchanted with them for some historical reason. So, to begin with, I have no personal issues with any council body whatsoever…
Most City, Borough and County Councils the length and breadth of the country have tried- with varying degrees of success- to meet their own remit in the provision of basic social services: waste, water, lighting, road maintenance, public amenity and park services etc. etc..
Over the most recent decades there has been a massive degree of expansion and development in these services, but for all of the money that was available and was spent on these services during the Celtic Tiger period, quite a lot of the historical approach to, and provision of these services still left a lot to be desired: we still have rubbish and litter strewn streets and parklands; we still drive in-and-out of potholes the size craters on far too many c and d roads; there are still far too many overgrown and neglected public spaces; still broken street lamps left that way for months on end etc. etc.. And now that the money has well and truly dried up some of these things are/will never addressed, and really are eyesores. Just my personal opinion and observation BTW…
So, given that most Council authorities are hard pressed and pushed to provide those basic services for which they were/are the sole responsible body, and for which in a great many cases they have failed and continue to fail miserably, we really should not be surprised when they decide to venture into some new area of public amenity provision, with no skill, no resource and no real knowledge of the basic requirements of providing land for urban-agri growing, and it should be no surprise that they get it all drastically wrong right from the get-go.
By and large, they couldn’t give a rodents posterior for the quality of the so called land they provide for community gardening and are generally more concerned with garnering the kudos and hogging the media limelight when it is announced that “such & such Council is to provide allotments in such & such location to help meet the growing demand in self-sustainability and cater for the burgeoning local interest in Growing Your Own…” or some such waffle…Let us be really frank here; here is a situation were one of the largest Council Authorities in the state has set aside some land for the provision of over 200 allotments to the local community and has even failed in one of the main areas of its own policy document on allotments Fingal Allotment Strategy dated March 2012 in which under objective 9, it states

Soil conditions:
Soil tests and historical research should be undertaken to assess the suitability of new allotments for food growing so all new sites will have appropriate growing medium.

Kind of puts things into perspective regarding Fingal Co. Co’s approach to allotments…and this BTW, from a council which now manages over 850 allotments.
You’d think they would have gotten the basics sorted at this stage!!!

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sirpsycho
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Location: Stamullen, Co Meath

PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, nice reply there! Must have a read of the Fingal Allotment Strategy...

Speaking of historical things, it reminds me about http://www.digisearch.ie/balbriggan/menu.asp

It's a digital record of Balbriggan Town Council (which is due to be eradicated shortly) minutes going back to 1860. There are plenty of notes about the allotments the town council ran over the years. From reading through them, the town council actually accomplished something for a change. They ran the allotments over the years, they provided for manure and seeds even. They expanded the allotment sites as demand grew and they even had reduced rates for unemployed people. If you're not from the Balbriggan Area, then it will probably make very boring reading but it provides a great insight into how things used to be and the current councils would do well to look back over these notes and learn something.
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Dirt Digger
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As we’ve raised the issue, if you are an allotmenteer, do you find that your service provider, whether it be council or private enterprise, provides adequate infrastructure and ongoing support: i.e. are there watering facilities; composting facilities; sheds and tunnels; gravel pathways etc. etc. and do they provide manure; access to tilling machinery; access to topsoil; parking areas etc. etc. .are you allowed bon-fire your waste, or allowed to have a summer barbecue?? If there is something amiss, or something that needs repairing how swiftly is it dealt with???
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to have an allotment with DLR Co Co in Goatstown.

Dirt Digger wrote:
watering facilities

One tap to about 20 plots.

Dirt Digger wrote:
composting facilities

Do your own composting.

Dirt Digger wrote:
sheds and tunnels

Not permitted, by contract.

Dirt Digger wrote:
gravel pathways-

Only on the main drag.

Dirt Digger wrote:
do they provide manure

No.

Dirt Digger wrote:
access to tilling machinery

No.

Dirt Digger wrote:
access to topsoil

Yes.

Dirt Digger wrote:
parking areas

On street.

Dirt Digger wrote:
are you allowed bon-fire your waste

God no!

Dirt Digger wrote:
allowed to have a summer barbecue

Yes.

Dirt Digger wrote:
If there is something amiss, or something that needs repairing how swiftly is it dealt with???

Within a few working days.
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tunnelsofhens10
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair play to you Dirtdigger, your allotment is class. It puts to shame those of us lucky enough to have it all in our back garden. Its a pity more like yourself don"t run for the town council elections and shift the x where it should be- On the compost heap.
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My Potatoes
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Location: Cork

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Goatstown Allotments I referred to above are provided on land that has been set aside for the completion of the M50. It could be many decades before that happens. The rough plan is to branch the M50 at Sandyford and bring it to Goatstown. Then somewhere around Mount Merrion begin the tunnel under Dublin Bay. Not sure where the tunnel pops up at the northside, but will join onto that end of the M50.

Dirt Digger wrote:
...we really should not be surprised when they decide to venture into some new area of public amenity provision, with no skill, no resource and no real knowledge of the basic requirements of providing land for urban-agri growing, and it should be no surprise that they get it all drastically wrong right from the get-go.


When some of this land was being set aside for allotments, it was covered in weeds. Apparently, and the evidence is there, the councils solution to the weeds was to bulldoze the weeds away, along with much of the topsoil underneath!
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Dirt Digger
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Location: Raheny, Dublin 5

PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our allotment site is just over 2 acres in size. It’s an old walled garden formerly a vegetable and rhubarb garden and part of the old St Anne’s estate which was then used by Dublin Corporation, subsequently Dublin City Council, once they acquired the estate, as a storage and dumping ground for over 45 years. So it had to be cleared of all the rubbish and rubble in preparation for being turned into an allotment site.
At just over 2 acres in total and with 90 allotments, the allotments themselves are not very big, but then, having observed the turn around over the last 3 years they are also just about big enough.
Once we became accustomed to the fact that some of the plots at one particular end of the site had a heavy clayey claggy soil, there really wasn’t much else to complain about regarding our little site;
Watering facilities are provided by way of subterranean universal hose points, set beneath ground level initially as a security measure, and also to prevent accidental damage by passing barrows etc. etc. and in hindsight it was a good idea to sink them;
There is no formal site composting area; everyone is expected to deal with their own spoil although we are trying to establish a system of palleted compost bins;
On plots of this size sheds, tunnels and glasshouses were a non runner from the start but each plot holder has an 8 foot x 3 foot x 3 foot locker in a communal lock-up for the storage of tools and equipment, and just last year we collectively purchased three 24 foot long communal poly tunnels and this year we bought in 16 double tiered staging tables and all plot holders have access to these.
The 1st year DCC provided manure and fairly good quality bulk compost, but since then we’ve sourced our own and have managed to source bulk horse manure delivered a couple of times a year which is better than nothing, and I suppose given all the cutbacks in both budgets and manpower levels DCC support us and the overall project fairly well.
We have a fairly secure parking area, and no, we also are not permitted to burn or light a fire, mainly because our site is situated within a large public park, albeit an area of the park to which the general public have little or no access.
Yes, we are allowed a BBQ, and we plan on having a few more this year than we had last year, mainly for our Open Day the 1st of which we had during the Rose festival last year, and since which we've decided to hold as an annual event, and also for our 1st Harvest Festival planned and pencilled in for 21st September.
All in all most visitors are really enamoured with our allotment site and mainly because it is located within an old walled garden and this lends itself to the feeling of being a secret garden or at least far enough removed from the hustle and bustle of the city and surrounding suburbs, and if you are familiar with this area of north Dublin you’d know that it is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, yet, here we are in a walled garden, within one of the largest municipal parks in the country, surrounded by 80-100 foot tall mature Holm oak, Beech and Ash trees; to my mind we possibly have some of the best located allotments in the country, and people would give their eye teeth for one of these; OK they maybe a bit on the small side, but I tell you sometimes it’s all about Location Location Location…

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Dirt Digger
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:53 pm    Post subject: Our Plot... Reply with quote

So here goes…
Last November 1st we moved onto our new allotment. We had had one of the smaller plots (35sq mtrs) for 2 years, but moved to our current plot (125 sq mtrs) which was an overgrown corner that had become somewhat of a black-spot within the overall garden. It took us quite a few of the cold weekends before Christmas to clear it, and with this year’s extended run of winter right through till the end of April we were seeing very little return for the effort we’d believed we’d exerted; but now, approaching mid-summers we are quite happy with what we’ve achieved. Practically all that we sowed germinated and is flourishing at last: the beetroot, turnips, celeriac and parsnips, oh yes, I’m partial to my parsnips; the garlic, shallots and onions are beginning to bulb up although some have also begun to bolt. The fruit bushes we planted as first year bare roots won’t really do much this year, and of all the fruit bushes, vegetable seed and flower seed we’ve sown the only thing which failed completely was the Malling Jewel raspberry canes we planted in December. Our tomato plants, peppers, aubergines and mini-cucumbers have all set trusses in the poly tunnel while the courgettes and spaghetti squashes on the plot are all beginning to flower. We always knew our new plot would prove a real challenge given it was a complete overgrown mess and also given the weather conditions earlier this year, but we’re quite pleased that it has come together, and once we sort the kale and leeks we’ve still to put to bed, and in the next couple of weeks sow a little Whitloof chicory for winter flavour and forcing we will have more than achieved our objectives, and can relax a little and look forward to some harvest rewards, safe in the knowledge that we get to do it all again next year, but with one big difference; we won’t have all the initial clearing and laying out work to do…we’ll post pictures over the coming weeks…

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Dirt Digger
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:41 pm    Post subject: the other half of my allotment... Reply with quote

As promised, another picture of Plot number 49...


raised beds plot 49 F.JPG
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raised beds plot 49 F.JPG



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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dirt Digger wrote:
OK they maybe a bit on the small side, but I tell you sometimes it’s all about Location Location Location…


Very true. With allotments the location is the single most important thing, more so than the soil or the shelter. If the soil is poor, you can improve it over time. If the site is exposed, you can add windbreaks. But if you live an hour's drive away, you cannot improve/change this. St Anne's Park is an ideal location if you live in Clontarf or Raheny, but at the other end of DCC, say Terenure or Ballier, forget it.

When I had an allotment in Goatstown it was two miles from my house, and on the route home from work. Location, location, location...
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Dirt Digger
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Location: Raheny, Dublin 5

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We’ve discovered that one of the major factors in plot abandonment and neglect is the proximity with which the licensee lives to the plot. DCC are constrained by their policies and procedures, and in their desire to remain open and transparent vacant plots are allocated to the next person on the waiting list, regardless of where they may live; unfortunately, this is not the optimum way to maintain an overall site. For over a year I had an immediate neighbour whose plot, which was right beside mine, was a disaster. I managed to see the plot holder only twice in that period, cycling in, bag on back, shovel tied to crossbar and it turned out he lived in Rathgar…
Rathgar to Raheny, on a bike, to do some allotmenteering, before Raheny to Rathgar on a bike, and all in the pursuit of ??? Let’s be honest (as we were at the time) the plot was never going to be kept in order.
And after a little researched detective work we discovered that some of our abandoned plots had 2 or 3 things in common; either the licensees lived a good distance from the site, or that they were getting-on a bit and weren’t really up to the physical commitment needed in maintaining an allotment. Gardening is often considered the gentle pastime, but this is a general misconception. Experienced gardeners are all too aware of the planning and effort expended in all weathers and all seasons in order to make it look so easy, and recent retirees and searchers for new hobbies and interests, often find the rigours and demands of keeping on top of a flower/vegetable garden quite challenging, and all the more so if they happen to be on in years before they start into gardening. And so distance from the allotment site, coupled with basic gardening experience together with the age of the potential new plot holder are, in my opinion, the 3 prime factors in determining whether a plot will be abandoned…almost sounds like a thesis doesn’t it…

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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was similar in Goatstown regarding the number of neglected plots, though I'm not sure if distance was a reason.

The newbies tended to be the biggest offenders. They'd the replaced the following year by another newbie. And so on...

There was one case of a newbie arriving up to her plot on her very first visit. We mused that in her mind she was probably thinking of an English allotment she'd seen on a lifestyle channel, with tilled soil ready for planting.
She arrived up, saw the plot, overgrown with weeds and not a patch of bare soil to be see, said "flip that" (or something similar), turned around, walked away, and was never seen again. For her, €100 down the drain. For the council a plot that could not be reallocated for 12 months. For the neighbouring plotholders a refuge of weeds, pests and diseases.

A more common case was where a newbie would tear into the plot, get all 100 square metres cleared, dug, cultivated and planted over St Patrick's weekend or Easter. Then come summer, come the summer commitments, come the weeds, come the pests. But no time to spare. Things would die, get overgrown, go to seed. It would be September and like they'd never been there at all. Maybe a few marrows.

I agree with much of what you say, apart from the bit about the plot holders of more advanced years. In Goatstown I found that most of these had more time to be up there. Seven days a week to pick and chose from, rather than two. For me, if it rained on Sat and Sun, that was a lost week. But for the retirees, it was just two days, and maybe Monday would be fine.
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Lius
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear Bertie Ahern has a plot in the Malahide Allotments and is up there all the time working on it.

Maybe he has the "inside track" on what we are going to have to do to feed ourselves after the mess his shower left behind?
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