March Newsletter – March 30th 2024

It’s great to see lots of activity at Elms Farm as the weather improves and we prepare for the growing season. You may have noticed that there is a permanent bay for wood chippings and an area where we hope to have regular supplies of manure. These will continue throughout the season.

If you missed the recent skip, then look out for another which we hope to have dropped very soon. The first filled very quickly so there is clearly demand.

There are also other site improvements that we’ve been working on including an additional water trough, security measures and clearing the car park area. It does take time to get these initiatives organised, costed and approved so please bear with us.

We’ve now allocated the four vacant plots and so a warm welcome to the new plot holders. Please say hello to your neighbours and get in touch if you need any help getting your plots into shape.

As advised back in February, the Spring Inspection will be taking place over the next two weeks.

We know this is a contentious issue and want to improve the process to make it easier for everyone. Where there are tenants who are struggling or have given up, we want to be able to support them, or reduce or reallocate their plots as quickly as possible so that every plot is being cultivated in keeping with the ethos of an allotment site.

For clarity please note the following:

  • Each plot is inspected by at least 2 members of the EFAA committee.
  • Committee members are not allowed to inspect their own plots.
  • We are working with the current Tenancy Agreement and Schedule 1 guidelines so if you have any worries about your plot please check those, or send us an email if you’re not sure. The full agreement can be downloaded from the website HERE. ( )
  • You don’t need to be present during the inspection. We will look at and possibly walk around your plot and take photographs, but we won’t enter sheds, greenhouses or polytunnels.
  • Our main concern is that there is clear evidence that the plot is being cultivated, weeded, mown and kept tidy. Sheds, polytunnels and greenhouses are in good condition and conform to the guidance. Also, given the recent fire, we want to check that tools, materials and flammables are stored in a safe and secure way.
  • Once complete we’ll consult with the Parish Council who have the final say on any recommendations.
  • For the four new tenants you will get a pass for this inspection since you’ve only had your plots for a couple of weeks.
  • As always, if you are struggling please get in touch so that we can discuss ways to support you. If you are no longer able to manage your plot, please let us know so that we can allocate it to someone on the waiting list.

Thanks for your understanding and support on this.

The Annual General Meeting is only a few weeks away, on Wednesday April 17th 7:30pm. PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS A CHANGE OF VENUE. Due to ongoing refurbishment of Crafton Green Day Centre (Touchpoint), we are now meeting at Stansted Free Church Hall, Chapel Hill, Stansted CM24 8AG. If you need to drive, you can park behind the Coop or in the Crafton Green car park.

The agenda for the meeting is HERE. ( )

ALL plot holders are invited and it’s an ideal opportunity to find out more about the Association and what we’re doing, or to put yourself forward for election to the steering committee (we need more help!).

The EFAA manages the site on behalf of the Parish Council, who hold a lease agreement with the landowner and with each tenant. We represent ALL plot holders and our remit includes:

  • Keeping track of tenancies, renewals, new plot allocations, water supply and grass cutting services etc.
  • Performing plot inspections to ensure that plots are being well maintained within the rules of the agreement.
  • Considering issues and initiatives that relate to the site as a whole such as security, safety, land use, car park, toilet block, wood chippings, manure supply and any community areas.
  • Cultivating a sense of community and belonging for all plot holders and their families and providing support for those who need it if we can.
  • We would love to see more members on the steering committee – ideally another 3 members. We try to meet every 1-2 months, allocate responsibilities amongst the team and have regular day to day discussion so we can respond to urgent issues. Typically we would expect committee members to be willing to put in a few hours each month to support the work we do as well as attending meetings. If you’d like to join the committee please let us know IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETING. You must be a registered plot holder to stand.

One of the tasks we’ve been working on is reviewing the guidelines for plot holders known as Schedule 1. This is attached to the Tenancy Agreement but can be amended throughout the year. Schedule 1 has grown over the past few years as new ideas have come along. The Parish Council asked us to take a look at it to see if it can be made clearer and more comprehensive. We have looked at similar guides from allotment sites across the UK and created a new set of guidelines, based on what has gone before but with a new structure and hopefully covering issues that haven’t been clear in the past. We’re renaming it ‘Ground Rules’ because ‘Schedule 1’ always seemed a bit formal.

We now need YOUR input. The new Ground Rules can be downloaded HERE ( )

We’d like your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and comments. It’s an opportunity to have a detailed discussion about how we want our site to run and to make sure everyone is clear about what is allowed as we move forward. We’ll introduce the Ground Rules at the AGM but are also accepting comments by email until the end of MAY so there’s plenty of time to work through it. It’s a big document but we hope will be of sufficient detail to give us and future generations of tenants much needed clarity.

You can, of course, contact us at any time by email or in an emergency by telephone. Details below. Any feedback, suggestions or concerns are treated in strict confidence.

Wishing you an enjoyable and productive Spring.