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HAHA Newsletter February 2021

Below is the latest Newsletter. Should you wish to print the Newsletter, please download February 2021 NewsletterOnce downloaded, open the document in Adobe Reader. If your PC does not have Adobe Reader installed, it can be obtained free by downloading from the Adobe site here http://get.adobe.com/reader . Please ensure that you deselect the Optional offer to install MacAfee, centre panel, then click the "Install now" button on the right.

We hope this Newsletter finds you and your families all safe and well, despite the ongoing crisis. At HAHA we hope 2021 will be a much brighter year all round, and we can get back to something approaching a more normal existence. Please do keep safe and healthy in the meantime.

Stores Re-opening/Outings

Unfortunately, as the pandemic continues, it feels sensible and reasonable to keep the Stores closed, particularly as many volunteers and users are either shielding or considered more vulnerable. It is anticipated the Stores will be able to re-open sometime in spring, but this will depend on how the situation develops and with respect to government restrictions in response to the crisis.

Regarding outings, these have also been put on hold temporarily. The need for social distancing means that any coach trip would have to run at 50% capacity at most, and consequently are only viable if members would be willing to pay double the usual charge. Therefore, no outings are currently being planned but, should the situation change, a few trips may be put on later in the year.

For those new to HAHA, you may not be aware that profits from the Stores and also outings make a contribution towards your rent charges. We therefore would ask that, when the time comes, you would consider supporting both endeavours as much as possible.

Plot rentals in unprecedented times We all know how the pandemic and its consequences are affecting all aspects of our lives, restricting our activities, making normal operation impossible, and HAHA is no exception, with the Stores closed, outings cancelled etc. So in our small way we are facing the same dilemma as most businesses, large and small, with little income coming in but costs a continuing drain on our resources. In addition, we have spent a lot of money on improving site security following the break-ins and we plan further investment this year (see below). As we have no idea when we may be able to start trading again, we feel it is prudent to take action now to redress the situation. So the Committee has taken the view that plot rentals should increase with effect from 1 July 2021 by £1 to £5 per rod. Normally we would give more notice but it is imperative that we deal with the current situation, and we would remind members that there has been no rent increase since 2016. HAHA does still offer excellent value compared to the Council, who charge £10.50 per rod for its plots and provide far less in the way of services to plot-holders.

Site Security Shortly after New Year, HAHA received an unexpected gift from the local Rotary Club; not a financial donation but a very useful contribution towards our efforts to improve site security (after having been targeted by thieves several times last year). After consulting with the local police, the Rotary Club decided to offer HAHA and three other local allotment sites a forensic marking system for valuable tools such as mowers, rotavators, etc, intended to make them traceable if stolen. The product is a more sophisticated version of the marker pens that the police usually recommend. Each kit contains a unique DNA code which allows the police to identify property, restore it to its owner and link criminals to the crime. HAHA has received two such marking kits and plot-holders have been invited to apply if they wish to have their tools protected in this way. Please email admin@hawkenburyallotments.co.uk or leave a message on our voicemail 01892 546653 if interested. We are immensely grateful to the Rotary Club for their generous donation and hope it will help to deter those who cause great distress and damage in their pursuit of a quick buck. Still on the subject of security, after the break-ins the issue of perimeter fencing was raised by many of you and the police also recommended that the fencing be improved. So we have decided to install new metal fencing at two places around the site. As yet, we have no date for the installation but will keep plot-holders posted. This will be another major investment made out of HAHA funds to improve site security.

Seed Potato Orders Please be advised that deliveries have been delayed by at least 2 weeks due to a national shortage of seed potatoes from all suppliers in Scotland. Also, some varieties are not available due to a poor harvest, but the supplier has promised to supply suitable replacements. Members will be phoned once their orders are ready and will be asked to arrange a date for collection.

Allotments and mental health

Over the past year we have seen a huge surge in demand for allotments and as a result we have a very long waiting list. Recently we were approached by a trustee of the mental health charity, Crossways Community, enquiring about the possibility of taking an allotment to allow people with mental health problems a chance to benefit from the restorative power of gardening. As that is something we plot-holders have all come to appreciate during lockdown, we would have liked to help the charity, but the lack of anything suitable and a long waiting list makes that difficult. However, it turns out the charity would ultimately like to find a larger plot of land (about 6 acres) that they could buy to create a community garden and having an allotment would only have been a first step on that road.

We wondered if any of our members might have any experience of a similar project that they could share with the charity, but also if anyone might know of a small plot of land for sale or have a large veg garden or similar themselves that is no longer used that would help the charity to get started? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts with us, preferably by email, and we will pass them on to the charity. Many thanks!

With the promise of Spring just a few weeks away, we hope to see many of you on site in the near future. Fingers crossed for a lifting of restrictions and a healthy and happy 2021.