20th March 2020

We have been trying to work out how the Coronavirus pandemic might impact Pitshanger allotments. Obviously, we should all follow the relevant government recommendations regarding social isolation, staying two metres away from others on site, opening the gates and locks with gloved hands, etc, to help prevent the spread of the virus. The site toilet will also be closed. That said, our collective aim should be to try to operate the site much as usual. For this to succeed your co-operation and assistance is essential. Our thoughts on some of the key issues are set out below.

Communication: It is important that all members have access to information and advice, but holding public meetings is probably a bad idea. Given that not all members are on e-mail, it would be helpful if you would check that your friends and neighbours at Pitshanger Allotments are aware of the contents of this post (sent as an email on 20th March). If you have any questions, helpful suggestions or offers of assistance relating to its contents please let us know.

Trading Hut: The Hut is fully stocked and will continue the normal opening schedule (10.00 -12.00 Saturday and Sunday) for the present. However, this service is dependent on the availability of Robert to staff the Hut and will have to be withdrawn if Robert becomes unavailable. With this in mind, tenants are strongly advised to collect pre-ordered (and prepaid) seed potatoes and pre-ordered compost and other items as soon as possible, and to make any other purchases while “the going is still good”. Robert is in the older “more vulnerable category”, as many of us are, and as such unlikely to be available if social isolation recommendations are tightened. Any help (even if it is only for a single Saturday or Sunday session) would be greatly appreciated. Please let us know if you can help out in any way – by email if possible.

Plot Maintenance: PACA will obviously take a more relaxed approach to “non-cultivation” issues in the light of the present crisis. A small number of members are in highest risk category (elderly with underlying health problems). We would advise such members to contact the PACA Management Committee to discuss the possible “mothballing” of their plots for this coming season. Other members who decide that they are unwilling to spend time maintaining their plots for the coming year are reminded that while a lower degree of cultivation is acceptable, the proliferation of seeding weeds is not and that they will be expected to either suppress such weeds by the use of weed-suppressing membrane or by strimming.

Working Parties: Conditions allowing, we plan to organise a series of working parties aimed at helping out those members in the highest-risk category by for example laying weed-suppressing membrane or grass/weed strimming and work on projects aimed at improving the communal facilities of the site. All members are strongly urged to help out. This is really a genuine case of “Pitshanger needs You”.

Social Events: Sadly, it looks as though our usual “Seedling Swap Day” and “Summer Show” will have to be cancelled this year. However, assuming the virus is conquered, we will more than make up for it by making them into even bigger and better events in 2021!!

PACA Committee