Every year our allotment gets together to clean tidy up our communal garden shed.
Allotments are generally public or private associations of people who garden together on rented land sub-divided into individual plots. Some allotment associations allow sheds and greenhouses on each plot but ours does not – instead we have a large communal shed for our members to store their tools in. 20-some people use it so you can imagine that it can get dirty over time.
Several years ago now the Manx Lottery Trust funded the build of our shed and also provided some communal tools including two wheelbarrows. I remember speaking to them on the phone to see if funding was available for a project like ours and being delighted by their own enthusiasm. They were more than happy to give us the money and had our application approved within days.
We had the shed built by a local company and Steve, our allotment Treasurer, built a tool rack inside for everyone to use. It’s partitioned into individual spaces so that you can store all of your tools in one place. I brought in an old table as well and it’s on it that we have our first aide kit, pens and paper, extra plastic bags, and anything else that would be considered a communal item. There’s also a plastic table next to this one for growing seedlings on if any member wishes to; it catches the warmth of south facing windows.
We’ve never had a problem with theft (touch wood) or untidiness but the nature of gardening does go hand in hand with dirt. No matter how tidy you try to keep it, a year’s worth of walking into the shed with muddy boots does result in a fairly ‘dirty’ space. Fortunately our committee member Lucia had enough of it and motioned to begin a shed-clean day each year. Last year was the first and I think we were all astonished at what we found!
Not only was there a lot of dust and dirt but a lot of mystery tools and gardening items. Over the years we’ve had members come and go and it seems that not all of them wanted to take their tools with them. We now store these mystery items in an alcove just inside the shed door and I’ve now taken to showing new members the stash before they decide to buy new tools. Waste not, want not.
This year we had our second shed cleaning day and it went so much quicker than last year’s. It definitely was due to more people helping out! We organise it by sending out a letter to our members asking for help on the day and instructing them to label their tool rack area with their name. Any tools found on the day that aren’t in a labelled area will be placed in the mystery tool area and potentially given away.
I brought cookies and drinks this year and set them up at our brand new picnic table. We used funds from our annual Seed + Plant Share event to fund this new addition – it has a view of our entire site and is a wonderful place to have a rest and a bit of a social. Two weeks ago another work party met up at the allotment to build a solid foundation for the table with sand and slabs kindly donated to our association.
On our shed clean up day Lucia once again marshaled the shed’s cleaning and I helped to get a crew to go over the site to pick up plastic litter. I imagine that many allotment sites have the same issue as we do with plastic – gardeners use recycled bottles as mini-cloches or for other reasons and then forget to dispose of them at the end of the growing year.
Over the winter this plastic is blown everywhere and over the past few weeks we’ve taken away more than twenty bags of it. Plastic is terrible for the environment and never breaks down, it just breaks down into tiny pieces that eventually make their way into animals and then us.
It took only about two hours for our shed and site to be tidied up and another committee member, Steve A, spent the day strimming the grass on the paths. At the end of it our members, the Dodds, offered to take all the bags of rubbish to the dump so now our site and shed is clean and organised and ready for the summer season ahead. It’s incredible how much work can get done with everyone helping out!
We still have a few vacant plots left at the Laxey & Lonan Allotment Association so if you’re interested in gardening with us, Email Me and check out our site here. There’s a membership form you can download and print out from the contact page and I’d be very happy to show you the spaces we have available.