As a result of the funding we received last year for making improvements to the site from Surrey County Council, with the help of Denise Turner-Stewart, our local Surrey County Councillor, we have put in additional watering facilities and have cleared a number of overgrown plots.
Several new people have joined us and we hope that more will follow. See the gallery which has photos of plots that have recently been rotovated and there are still a few available to rent. Remember you don't have to take on a full size plot, we will divide them up to suit your requirements.
We are also in line for additional funding from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative, having been shortlisted to receive a grant - money which has been raised from the 5p carrier bag levy.
Voting for the three projects, including ours, takes place in Tesco stores throughout May and June and shoppers are being invited to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.
Sadly we didn't manage to get the top award from Tesco but we did receive £1000 which will help finance the installation of a compostable toilet.
The toilet has been installed and is a welcome addition to the site facilities.
The foot crossing over the railway line which provided access to the site from the north has been closed by Network Rail.
Further funding from Surrey County Council has allowed us to put in additional storage facilities for equipment.
Rotovator purchased for use by members.
Battery powered mower purchased to replace difficult to maintain petrol driven machines.
The site remains open for plot holders despite the coronavirus pandemic. Plot holders are clearly deriving much benefit from working their plots and are able to maintain social distancing whilst doing so. Everyone does have to take extra care when handling gates, pumps etc. Unfortunately tenants who live some distance from the site have been unable to come.
Some relaxation in the rules concerning outdoor activities mean that some of our tenants who live furthert away can now come back to their plots though those relying on public transport are still unable to attend. We have also been able to welcome new tenants. This does mean however that the only plots now available to rent require a lot of work to bring them back into cultivation. It is just not feasible to have volunteer working parties to clear plots during the pandemic and other improvement projects are also on hold.
Our AGM which should have taken place this month has been postponed until restrictions on such gatherings are removed.
Reluctantly we are not able to take on any more new tenants at this time. The only available plots are covered with dense tall brambles and we already have huge piles of brambles recently cleared by new tenants to dispose of. Having seen a rise of about 40% of plots being cultivated during the last 8 weeks this has put a strain on our resources. We shall regularly review this situation as it may well be that when more people return to their normal employment and activities that they may not have time to continue with their plots.
Two small solar panels have been attached to the toilet roof which allows us to charge the batteries used in the mower and the hedge cutter as well as batteries used in the wildlife cameras.
In order to allow tenants to drive onto the site during the winter period, when the paths turn to mud, we have used a contractor to dig out the existing dirt track and fill this with hard core material to create a roadway from the main gate up to the storage shed. We have again been fortunate to have received some funding towards this with the backing of Denise Turner-Stewart from Surrey County Council. This should greatly assist the less able members to reach their plots and will ease the parking problems outside the site.
Two additional boreholes have been put in to cope with the extra demands for water.
We held our AGM outdoors for the first time on site. Luckily the weather was fine.
A few of our tenants have vacated their plots during the first part of the year, which means we do have some plots available to rent.