FLAG St Albans
Folly Lane Allotment Group
News and Events

Please email FLAG at
flagmail@btinternet.com if you have any news items you would like to post on this site

Autumn 2017 Newsletter
BBQ. Thanks to Brian for organising a very successful BBQ in September. Everyone had a good time.
Proposed Allotment rent increases. We joined a cross-town group of allotment sites and robustly discussed the council’s proposals for rent increases, mostly far too high in our view. The City Neighbourhood Committee have now passed a proposal for new rents to be only at the same rate of increase as inflation. This is a big success for our work as a pressure group, working together across the whole town.
Get your Kings Seed catalogues from the clubhouse (only available to FLAG members). Send your order directly to King’s Seeds and please make sure you quote ‘Folly Lane Allotment Group’ on your order (we get a small % returned to us).
 Autumn Leaves Deliveries need space. Please take your last year’s leaves from the right hand side of the pile to leave space clear for this year’s new deliveries. Old leaves make excellent mulch to overwinter on bare soil (hold them down with cardboard or mesh and bricks and let the worms do the work).
Bonfire Working Party December 9th.  Start at 10am, light up at 12 noon.
We are already starting a ‘rubbish wood’ pile at the end of the green waste tip. 
On the day we will pile up other burnable stuff from the green waste pile (raspberry canes, currant bushes, tree branches etc) then burn it all.
Green Waste Pile. Lots of the stuff on the pile could be composted on your plot and reused next year when it has rotted down. But if you must put it on the pile, PLEASE throw it to the back of the pile, don’t leave it by the roadway. 
Our AGM will be held on Wednesday, December 6th in St Michael’s Parish Room (same location as last year) starting at 19.45, doors open from 19.30. 
We will complete the meeting by 21.15. Do come along and share a glass and a nibble, talk about how the site is developing and what we should do next year!

 Best wishes for the season from your Committee.

April 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to a new growing season! Let’s hope the weather lasts long enough to get some seeds started off properly.
 Looking back, since January we have had several well attended working parties and the site looks much better as a result. Thanks to everyone who turned up! We will organise another in May to continue with clean-up work across several areas that need it.
Steel shed – we are changing the lock and keys on the steel shed at Easter.  You can  swap your old key for a new one – ask Richard or Bob. We will be clearing out unused and broken equipment so if you have anything in there please make sure it is marked with your name and plot number so we know what belongs to who.
The people living at 103 Goldsmiths Way have a small shed that they are offering to any plot holder who wants to go and collect it. Please contact them directly.
‘Larks in the Parks’ Sunday July 2nd - offers of help to Juliette Voisey who will set up a FLAG tent.

Do you want a BBQ this year? If you are prepared to organise a BBQ, or a similar social event, then please speak to one of the committee members. We will support you but we are not initiating it ourselves. The BBQ area and facilities are available for you to do your own, feel free!
More shredded trees please – if you have any contacts in the tree surgeon world, please tell them.
Security  reminders from our PCSO – it is recommended that mark your tools to make them less attractive to thieving and so they can be restored if found; keep them locked in your shed; use plastic sheeting in your greenhouse not glass. 
Report any vandalism and unsocial behaviour to police (capture on your phone camera) and copy to Brian Songhurst who is keeping a site register for completeness

Keep the gates closed!! When you drive in close them, when you drive out LOCK them. The top gate has even been seen to be left open overnight, this is really bad!
Green waste piles
 We have had great help from Jim Russell (plot 41) in pushing back both piles of green waste which had become quite a mess. Please try to compost as much yourself on your plot, much of the green waste could have been composted by plotholders. Remember most weeds are compostable.
If you must throw stuff away please throw it to the back so the piles stay under control.
The piles actually comprise well-rotted compost, there are wire baskets to use as a crude sieve to get the good compost through into your barrow!
Rent Increase proposals
The City Neighbourhood Committee is responsible for Allotments and their rents. They intend to set new rents, growing substantially over the next five years, at their next public open meeting on 28th June. Their proposals are attached as a spreadsheet, with four options. We as your committee believe that Option 1, for roughly 10% annual increases every year, is probably reasonable, but not any more than that (option 4 would impose almost 50% increases every year, adding up to 400% by the fifth year!!).
Please tell us what you think, we want to collect opinions about it and prepare a response to the CNC by the end of May. We will attend the CNC meeting and we would appreciate your support – if you want to let them know how you feel.
Or you can tell your councillors directly, they all have email addresses via the council website.

January 2017 Newsletter

 Highlights of FLAG AGM 2016 and beyond into 2017!
 FLAG AGM for 2016 was held on December 12th, seventeen people attended, including many new plotholders, thanks everyone for your time.  The official Full Minutes of the meeting are attached with notes of the ensuing discussions.  
Highlights  of the AGM

Anne  is taking on helpers to expand the Site Steward role - she has four volunteers already.

We intend to have more working parties in midweek as well as Saturdays.

The council intends to put in a proper gate and step into the Oysterfields car park corner and move our fence and gate two metres up the hill into the site, hopefully before Easter.

 Dates for your diaries

Anne is meeting her volunteers to discuss how to share out the various jobs they want to cover on Thursday 12th January. If  you are interested in spending a little site time, please contact Anne.

Work party on Saturday January 21st at 10 to do a big burn on plot 40, the bonfire pile is getting really big.

Work party on Thursday February 9th  at 10 to work on the clubhouse: chair storage area and clean-out interior.

  • STOP PRESS 1 FLAG owes big thanks to the new plotholder on 41, Jim Russell, who has used his own equipment to push back the main green waste pile. This has exposed large volumes of well rotted compost for anyone to take away and use on their plots.

  • STOP PRESS 2 Jean has left behind a collection of magazines and seed packets and books and tools, these are in the clubhouse, please have a look and take anything that you can use.


Jean Stringer

Jeannie and the Folly Lane Allotments

I have had a plot on the Folly Lane Allotment site for many years. I feel that Jean has always been part of my Allotment Experience, along with Robin Law who died earlier this year.

My memories of Jean? She was keen and very knowledgeable, a public spirited person who shared her experience freely with anyone who asked (and often with anyone who didn’t ask!).

Jean was first tempted on to a shared half plot by Robin, but she soon took over more responsibilities and she became the Site Steward. This meant that she was the person who introduced new people to their plots, and to the joys of allotmenting, and reminded them of the commitment you needed to do it properly.

Her energy, foresight and vision transformed the site.  

She was the Council’s nemesis. She protested, she harangued, she acted.  When they repeatedly mixed up plots and tenants, she made clear wooden signs for every single plot, and we installed them.  She heard that another site had obtained a lockable steel shed so she badgered them until we had one too. She campaigned to improve our water provision. And when they did eventually install the pipes, she, and her trusty spanners, set about replacing all their taps with more user-friendly ones.

Another example – you know the council men collect lorry loads of leaves from the parks every autumn? It was her idea to get them brought in to our site and piled in a big heap in a quiet corner. There they gradually turn into leaf mould, which makes a great improvement in your soil. And it’s free!

She had raised her own children in rural Canada. Prompted by this experience, she desperately wanted parents to bring their children to work and play at the allotments.  So we have wildlife ponds, a play area and a social and barbecue site. Once she had got these going, she helped maintain them; she cleaned the ponds, and moved the play equipment around.

And her skills were not only practical.  Her creativity and imagination helped to transform an overgrown and superannuated Christmas tree into an enormous chicken that you really would NOT want to meet.  Another example: she had a big collection of traditional clay pots, which she (and Bibi) turned into ‘Potman’, a three foot high figure reminiscent of Bill and Ben – the original Flowerpot Men!

She was a dedicated recycler.  She was adept at skip diving – if it could possibly be reused, she would take it. And she’d store it somewhere, on her plot, or even in her house. She found us a magnificent club house, which we dismantled from her neighbour’s garden and re-erected on site, under her eagle eye. It now has tea making facilities, magazines and armchairs. Just the thing when it starts to rain unexpectedly! 

Jean’s greatest challenge was trying to promote enthusiasm among weary St Albans workers and commuters, and this was sometimes a source of frustration, people have such busy lives these days. Marshalling the troops for major tasks must at times have seemed like herding cats.   However her persistence paid off, and we continue to run regular working parties to keep the site in good order.   The next one is this Saturday!

These things are all part of Jean’s legacy; but underlying all this, her primary focus was the plants.  The capacity for growth in a tomato seed, the beauty of a cascade of fuchsia blooms or drops of water glistening on a leaf captivated her.  Whatever her impatience with people, her quiet patience and thoughtful judgment with plants was endless.  Endless, and infectious.  Time spent gardening with Jean was time recovered from a hectic urban schedule, and many people testify to the way in which she – and the gardening – helped them to recover from trauma, panic or depression.
She always wanted things to be better for everyone, even if it was her own definition of ‘better’. Folly Lane will not be the same without her.

Finally, one of our members left this note by Jean’s greenhouse, with a bouquet, last week:  

“Dear Jean

Thank you for all your advice and conversations. I shan’t forget sitting with you last Summer, helping you to pick your strawberries. I will always remember you at the BBQ with your wheelbarrows used for cooking!

It doesn’t feel the same up here without you – you were, and still are, an inspiration.

Love and Rest in Peace.”