Welcome to Forest Farm Allotments Society (FFAS). The Committee and Plot-holders hope you will enjoy happy, fulfilling and productive allotment gardening and that you will feel part of our community at Forest Farm. These notes have been written to help you settle in and enjoy our beautiful site.
Please read carefully the Schedule of the Terms of your Tenancy Agreement as well as these helpful notes.
There are twenty eight allotment sites in the Cardiff area, most of which are managed by the Cardiff City/County Council. However, currently, eight of them are “locally managed sites”. Each locally managed site is run by a Committee elected by current plot-holders at its Annual General Meeting, on behalf of the Landlord – Cardiff City/County Council, to whom your rent is paid. Our Forest Farm site is one of those locally managed sites.
You will have signed a formal Tenancy Agreement when you accepted your plot, a copy of which you will receive in due course. Rents are payable annually or by instalments as agreed with the Council, usually in early February, as soon as you receive an invoice.
The FFAS committee, and other volunteers, work together to provide a number of benefits for the plotholders, including:-
- A site shop, offering horticultural supplies at competitive prices
- A compost toilet/changing room, cleaned and maintained by a volunteer
- Free Newsletters
- Heavily discounted seeds from the Dobies Seeds scheme
- A Summer Barbecue, usually held on August Bank Holiday, which is fun and a great social occasion. Family and friends are also welcome.
- Free use of wheelbarrows
- Hire of tools and equipment, such as strimmers and rotavators, for a nominal sum
- Organising working parties for occasional maintenance tasks, such as trimming hedges or filling potholes.
MAKING A START
The first term of your Tenancy Agreement and most crucial to your keeping your plot is that Cardiff City Council, the Landlord, expects you to cultivate at least one third of your new plot within the first three months and the whole of your plot within twelve months. If you find that you have difficulties in complying with this requirement, you MUST contact the Site Secretary.
There are rare occasions when we get some theft and vandalism. Firstly, make sure the site gates are locked after you enter the site and leave the site NEVER LEAVE THE GATES OPEN (except when there is a notice on the gate from the committee asking for it to be left open). You will be issued with a key which fits the lock on the main gate and the compost toilet and for which you will be charged a deposit fee of £15. Additional keys are available at £15 per key. The deposit(s) will be repaid upon return of the key(s).
The Society runs a website for members, which gives more in-depth information, as well as up-to-date news, occasional voting facilities on important issues. It also acts as a forum, allowing plotholders to make comments, have their say and, if they wish, to discuss important topics with each other. The members’ website although accessible by the public is not generally visible to Google, etc. and you need to know it exists and the domain address to access it. The address is:
FFAS endeavours to publish at least one Newsletter each year, containing interesting articles and information, plus Committee news. Any member can offer articles, advertisements, photos etc. If you’d like to contribute material for the Newsletter we’d love to hear from you. Let a committee member know, or email email@example.com.
The newsletters will be sent to you electronically or by mail. Or you can pick up a paper copy at the site shop.
A site shop, run by FFAS, is available for most of your basic allotment needs, including the sale of surplus plants, etc. in season. Items such as compost, bean canes, bird netting, weed control fabric, fertilizers and slug pellets can be purchased at very reasonable prices. A full price list is available on the website.
FAMILIES AND CHILDREN
Families and children are very welcome on site, but parents must be mindful of the potential dangers that are present on allotments, such as sharp tools, broken glass, etc. Access roads are well used by plot-holders, so if you drive a car on the site, be aware that there is a 5mph speed limit.
Children, quite rightly, love to explore and tear around on bicycles and scooters etc. Just remember that parents are responsible for their children when on the site and should be aware of the dangers to them of being unsupervised. Don’t let them wander unseen or run across other people’s plots.
Dogs are allowed on site but must be kept on a lead. Owners/minders must remove any dog excreta immediately and take it off-site for disposal. This poses another health hazard if left on or near growing crops, or to children playing on site.
The use of motorised machinery such as mowers, strimmers, cultivators and the like is permitted on site, but please be mindful of the nuisance and intrusion of loud machinery being used for long periods. Other plotholders are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their plots, therefore PLEASE DON’T USE NOISY MACHINERY ON SITE ON SUNNY SUNDAYS.
Radios, music players, etc. should not be used, and please be courteous to your fellow plot-holders by talking quietly when at the allotment.
The paths adjacent to your plot comprise part of the plot that you rent and have to be kept tidy, closely mown, laid with wood chippings, or otherwise properly maintained. The Site Secretary will show you which of the paths you are responsible for maintaining.
PESTICIDES AND WEEDKILLERS
Many plot-holders on our site try to grow as organically as possible, so you should be aware that pesticides and weedkillers, when used, can migrate on the wind to adjoining plots and ruin the healthy, organic crops of your neighbours and seriously affect the bee population on site.
Bees are vital to pollination of crops, therefore, whilst such chemicals are not banned, please think carefully about using them. There are organic alternatives.
Pernicious weeds or any unwanted rubbish must be removed by you from site. Any glass, metal or plastic materials brought onto the site by plot-holders MUST therefore be removed by them.
At the far end of the site there is a bay constructed of a concrete slab and block walls. This is for the delivery of materials for use by plot-holders. DON’T DUMP YOUR RUBBISH OR ANYTHING IN THIS BAY OR ANYWHERE ELSE ON SITE.
The cost of having rubbish removed from site is enormous. Take it home to put in your green or black bins or to Council waste and re-cycling depots such as Wedal Road or Lamby Way.
Self-filling water troughs are provided within a reasonable distance of your plot. However, the use of hoses is PROHIBITED. Please keep the water clean for watering plants. DON’T contaminate the water by washing tools, produce or anything in the troughs.
Try to save as much rainwater as you can on site from shed, greenhouse and poly-tunnel structure roofs. You can do this by using old plastic bins and the like, or you can purchase water butts from the Council at Lamby Way which are very reasonably priced. The cost of providing water on site is almost 40% of your rent, so save as much rainwater as possible and make sure you report any leaks or continuously filling and overflowing troughs. It will help to keep your rents down!
You are strongly encouraged to make compost from the annual weeds (if not seeding) and other suitable waste material from your plot or elsewhere. Almost all vegetable matter can be composted. A compost heap must be large enough to raise the temperature sufficiently high enough to break down the vegetable material. It is unwise to put pernicious weeds in your compost heap such as dandelion, horse tail, couch grass, bindweed, creeping buttercup, ground elder, dock, convolvulus, and of course, diseased material such as blighted haulms from potatoes and tomatoes. Also brassica roots should never be composted, owing to the danger of spreading club root. On the other hand, lettuce, cabbage tops, bean and pea haulms, leaves of vegetables and grass mowings can be safely composted. Keep some brown cardboard from packaging handy to add to your composter (in the proportion of approximately 40%) to avoid it getting too wet and slimy.
Eventually, you should have lovely dark, crumbly and sweet smelling material that will enrich and improve the texture and fertility of the soil on your plot. Again, there are great deals for plastic composters, from as little as £7, from the Council at Lamby Way.
Manure can be delivered to the site, but you must be in attendance to open the gates to take delivery of your load. Names and numbers of suppliers are shown on the members’ website or are available from the Site Secretary for you to order manure. If you have a small plot, try to share a load with some of your plot neighbours on site.
You may wish to erect your own greenhouse or poly-tunnel on your plot, but you must obtain permission from the Site Secretary for this.
CHANGE OF CONTACT DETAILS
You will be asked for your address, telephone numbers and e-mail address when you enter into your Tenancy Agreement. Your e-mail address is particularly important for contacting you with information on allotment events and the issue of Newsletters. So, if you change any of your contact details, please let the Site Secretary know so that we can update our tenant records and keep in touch with you.
TERMINATING YOUR TENANCY
If, for any reason, you decide to give up your plot, please contact the Site Secretary (see website for contact details). She/he will help you complete the necessary form to give notice to the City Council of the Termination of your Tenancy Agreement, arrange for the return of your keys and refund of your key deposit.
ONE FINAL PLEA
Please be considerate to your neighbouring plot-holders in everything you do on your plot, particularly when it comes to WEED CONTROL!
Please try to keep your plot and the site in good order. There are regular visits to the site from the Council’s Allotment Officer and she will not hesitate to issue you with a “Cultivate or Quit” notice if you don’t maintain and cultivate your plot.
SO, THE MESSAGE IS – “USE IT OR LOSE IT”!
WE WISH YOU MANY YEARS OF HAPPY ALLOTMENTING WITH US!