Our Welcome to new Members

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1 Our Welcome to new Members ST THOMAS ALLOTMENTS ASSOCIATION GUYS & HYLTON SITE This booklet is offered by St Thomas Allotments Association (which covers 12 sites west of the Exe) to welcome you to Guys & Hylton Allotments and introduce you to some of the facilities, services and activities provided to help you enjoy gardening with us. History Guys & Hylton allotment site is the largest in Devon and Cornwall, having more than 220 full-size plots. Many are let as half-plots as this size often suits individuals and families who would find a full plot too demanding. (There is a pamphlet giving a very brief history of allotments west of the Exe from 1842 to this is available on our Website: or pick up a hard copy from the Veg Box.) Facilities Toilets: There is a flush Portaloo at the centre of the site and there are public + disabled toilets on Exwick Playing Fields just outside the north pedestrian gate. Trading Shed: This is open from 10am - 12noon on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year (limited times November and December). This is a non-profit-making service run by Volunteers, and by supporting the Trading Shed through your purchases you are also helping to maintain this service and provide a small surplus towards the cost of e.g. insurance, the website and newsletter.

2 The VEG BOX: This is open most days on an 'as-and-when' basis (that means it is closed if the weather is very bad or no-one has been available to open up!). Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, squash, biscuits and sometimes other delights are available for you at a nominal cost. Low power tools (such as cordless drills, cordless strimmers, computers, phones) can be recharged using the electrical sockets. Do Not plug in things like kettles - they need a lot of power and they will simply fuse the whole system! There is an information board and helpful publications (e.g. back copies of 'Kitchen Garden' and 'Grown Your Own' magazines - and an apple/juice pressing facility). Apple Pressing: The equipment is privately owned but available for you to use in the autumn for a nominal charge - with free advice and help thrown in! The aim is to avoid wasting wonderful top fruit - and apple juice can be frozen or made into cider, of course. Community Polytunnel: This is sited near the John Levers pedestrian gate and, with funds raised by the Association, a team of volunteers constructed the tunnel and the 22 raised beds inside.

3 The individual raised beds are rented out by the Association - they are particularly suitable for people wanting a small area to extend the growing season, for anyone with mobility issues (there are 4 high raised beds which can accommodate wheelchair users), or anyone perhaps giving up their large outdoor plot but wishing to continue to be part of the allotment community. Mentoring: If you need help or advice on any gardening issues, you will find your neighbours and fellow allotment gardeners only too willing to provide it! Don't be afraid to ask: many people will be starting 'serious' vegetable/fruit growing for the first time and there is a wealth of experience and knowledge for you to tap into. So please just ask your neighbour or find one of the Committee Members (their details will be on the Notice Boards). Being good Neighbours: You will know from the Council Rules that no-one is allowed to go onto another person's plot - unless invited, of course. That's a very firm rule which applies also to visitors who may need this explaining to them. Your Association has worked hard to encourage and welcome families and children to the site and it is very important that adults responsible for the children take that responsibility seriously because, by the nature of allotments, there are plenty of hazards. Children do not always understand why they must not put soil, stones or rubbish into the water troughs: please ensure that children do not play round the troughs or put anything into them as this water must be kept clean, free from any additives and available for watering only. And do ensure that any children you are responsible for remain on your plot: they must not run off or cycle round on the common paths or car parking areas. EVENTS: The Association and volunteers run a series of events each year: AGM: This is held in November and is an opportunity to meet the Committee, stand for election yourself, discuss important issues, and plan for the future. 'Allotment Show': This is good fun and a chance to exhibit some produce (vegetables, fruit, flowers, preserves) in a well-managed annual Show held in July each year. It's great for children - some special categories for them - and

4 the entry fees are really low. Don't feel you have nothing to show: enter and enjoy! And your entry will help support the Show the following year. Harvest Lunch: Each autumn we have a very informal social gathering at the VEG BOX to share a meal ('bring & share') to celebrate the end of the growing season. Just come along. 'Wassailing': On the Saturday usually nearest to the shortest day, we have a BBQ, cider and song to celebrate our Fruit Trees (by decorating the large apple tree which has been designated 'King of the Forest'! The event starts around 4pm as it starts to get dark and ends when it ends... 'Dig It! Plant It! Eat It!' - Open Day: Most years (depending on available grant funding) we are able to run a day-long event of Workshops, Tours, Allotment Lunch, Quiz and Produce Sales for the public (and in particular for our near neighbours from around Exwick, St Thomas, Alphington and Cowick). This is an opportunity for the wider community to come and enjoy what is an important community amenity - and to encourage more 'grow-your-own' across Exeter. Volunteers are needed for a whole host of tasks - making the tea, baking scones, taking guests on a guided tour, staffing the main gate...so please think how you might be able to help.

5 South West in Bloom: Since 2013 Guys & Hylton has entered the 'RHS SW in Bloom' scheme in the 'It's Your Neighbourhood' category. Each year we have been awarded top honours - 'Outstanding' - to reflect our engagement with community activities, concern and care for the environment and wildlife, and for horticultural achievement (although many of us are far from 'outstanding', the very good ones help to pull us up the league!). Guys & Hylton's entry then also forms part of the 'St Thomas Village' category, and in 2014 the 'Village' was awarded a Silver Gilt Certificate. Our goal now, of course, is 'Gold'! Heritage & History Tours: During the year we are often asked to give tours to different groups.e.g new allotment sites in the South West or for the St Thomas Local History Group. The Heritage Open Day Tours are run in conjunction with English Heritage and we provide one of the Exeter events. Volunteering: We know that people have busy lives. But people with good skills can sometimes contribute in significant ways without this taking up too much time. If you can offer any of the skills below, please let one of your Committee Members know - and we'd be delighted to talk to you: Fund Raising/Grant Funding/Sponsorship Open Day Management Baking Other...? Let us know! And finally... the people you are sharing the space with love coming to the allotments for different reasons. For some it is the peace and quiet (no radios/intrusive noise); for some it is physical activity involved in gardening; for some it is the company; and for most it is a place to come and 'chill out'. Everyone's needs are accommodated when we are good neighbours and respectful of this superb amenity. We hope you will enjoy your gardening. Thank you St Thomas Allotments Association Guys & Hylton Site

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