Thoughts of a Virtual Seed Swap

Problems finding seeds this Spring – Thoughts of a Virtual Seed Swap

We have heard from several members that they have had difficulty in obtaining vegetable seeds this season – with many firms quoting long lead times for delivery or even suspending trading (e.g. our own link with Kings Seeds).

I wondered whether those of us with more seeds than we need could find a way to share with those who missed out?  Would members be interested in this if we were to set up a blog on our website where people could offer or request?  Obviously we can’t organise a traditional seed swap due to social distancing, but two individuals could negotiate a swap or exchange and find a way of safely handing the seeds over …

Would this be useful to members? Please let us know what you think using the Secretary’s email.

Thanks Everybody!

As a Committee we thought we would like to thank all of our members for their cooperation under these difficult circumstances. Reports suggest that Twenty Pound Meadow is quietly busy with folks all keeping carefully apart.  Children are staying close to parents.  It has been a glorious week, weather-wise, and people are quietly keeping track of each other.  It’s starting to look really good.

Botley Meadow was looking wonderful yesterday with many members on site – all studiously observing the two-metre rule but engaging nonetheless.

Thank you all for your understanding.  As ever, if you have any questions please direct them to the secretary at:


NAS Coronavirus Emergency Measures


Having just read through the Government advice on the lockdown criteria we believe that both our sites can remain open to provide members with the opportunity for exercise. However, the following would seem to be the conditions under which we will operate:

  1. No congregations greater than two people (from the same household)
  2. Do not get any closer to anyone else than 2 metres (6 feet) under any circumstances
  3. Coffee mornings are off for the moment – classed as a communal activity and therefore not permitted
  4. The shop may be allowed to continue opening on Sunday mornings but we will need to give more thought to queue control, access to stock and payment methods

Please observe these conditions. The most recent news posts confirm that the Police will be checking to make sure that the public are observing them and if they suspect that they are not then we could be compelled to close the sites – just when all of us are gearing up for the growing season!

Be considerate – the introduced measures are there not just to protect you but also those you hold dearest; friends and family.

Emails: we propose not to deluge you with email updates (it takes the Secretary seven separate emails to get a message out) but will instead be using this website as a primary way of communicating with members.  Please – if you haven’t already done it, can you bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.  Do also let other members know the website exists (but from 2 metres distance!)

Best wishes & stay safe

Nick (Association Secretary)


AGM 2020 – Postponed

Your Committee have considered the Government advice concerning the evolving situation with the COVID 19 coronavirus outbreak and have reluctantly agreed that we need to postpone the AGM for this year.

We were due to hold it on Thursday 30th April at the West Oxford Community Centre but as current projections for ‘social distancing’ measures are being framed in terms of weeks or even months we cannot see how holding the AGM would be feasible or advisable.  We will review the situation over the summer with a view to holding the AGM later in the year.

The current Committee will remain the same, with the exception of Treasurer – Sheila was already intending to step down in April and Phil Sampson from Botley Meadow was prepared to stand to replace her.

The Committee going forward will therefore comprise Nick Jackson as Association Secretary, Phil Sampson as Treasurer (to be ratified at the AGM, when held), and the following Committee members:

Anne James (TPM & Committee Chair), Jude Carroll (TPM), Cathy Feenan (TPM), Sue Spencer-Longhurst (TPM), Verity Wilson (TPM), Paul Robinson (TPM) and Pól Ó Ceallaigh (BM)

Allotment access during pandemic conditions

As of today (Friday 20th March) we do not believe that the Government intends to restrict members of the public from accessing outside spaces – including allotments. We encourage all of our members to respect the ‘social distancing’ advice from the Chief Medical Officer – i.e. to keep your distance from others (two metres) where practical and treat any publicly accessible surfaces as potential sources of infection.

A few members have asked about the possibility of the COVID 19 virus being transmitted via the padlocks on the TPM gates.  Estimates vary regarding how long the virus can survive outside of the human body but it is likely to be in the order of hours.  The padlocks and gates should be treated with the same degree of caution as any other public surface (e.g. the adjacent pedestrian crossing button). Members may want to consider using gloves when handling the padlock (opening it using a clear plastic bag as a glove also works).

Cllr Colin Cooke has donated some hand sanitising gel for use by the Twenty Pound Meadow gates. The Committee is also looking into how feasible it would be to provide soap and water adjacent to the gate for hand-sanitising purposes. If they do, we suggest members bring their own small hand towel for their individual use.

Allotment shop arrangements

We are reviewing arrangements regarding if and how the shop may operate for the duration of the outbreak.

These may include: opening for shorter hours, limiting the numbers being served and asking people to distance themselves inside the shop, conducting transactions outside, and/or take orders and prepare goods for people to collect.  We may need to limit transactions to contactless if advice develops that cash/notes are an increasing route of infection.

Regardless of the above, the shop is looking for volunteers to help out – having lost both Maura and Janet recently.  Please contact Felicity at if you feel you can volunteer.

Allotment Coffee Mornings

The Twenty Pound Meadow group is still considering whether to start holding these again, now that the weather is improving.  Please keep checking back here to see if and when these may start up again.

Previously, Allotment coffee mornings were held on the last Sunday of the month, 10:30am – 12:00pm from April to September. If you haven’t been before we have lovely homemade cakes, biscuits and buns plus good ground coffee and juice for children.

If you fancy showing off your Bake-Off skills by providing the occasional cake please contact Elizabeth Newbery on 07816 268145

If you able to help out on just one coffee morning (all milk, coffee and juice supplied) we would be very, very grateful.

The profit from the sales go towards boosting the allotment funds.

Update on Twenty Pound Meadow security fencing

The security fencing on the northern boundary of TPM is nearly complete. We needed to do this after several incidents of people coming through from Tumbling Bay, and after several years of patching and watching for holes appear in the old fencing.

Jude and Gus have done some sterling work coordinating volunteers erecting the new fencing over many months.  We had hoped to be finished by now but flooding has set us back a little.  In addition, we are planting a mixed hawthorn and small-tree hedge in front of the fence to soften the look and improve security.

We couldn’t have done this without the generous financial support from Councillors Colin Cook and Susanna Pressel – both of whom provided funds from their Ward Member budgets to support us in safeguarding the integrity of the site.

Many thanks to Gus and Jude for leading on this and to all those volunteers who gave their time and energy to assist, and also to the Oxfordshire Community Payback Team who helped us.

Wild Edges

Ally’s latest blog begins:

Hazel catkins – SoiLandSoul for the deep wellbeing of people 👣🕸️ and planet💦☀️

With a month to go before the Spring Equinox on the Celtic calendar and with so much flood water covering much of the allotment site over the last few months, my attention has been taken to the edges. Edges or margins are often the places on allotments, in gardens or societies that are less ‘managed’, wilder, and are often interesting diverse, and creative places.

Edges are places of transition, portals to something else… For example from land to water; riverbanks, sea-shores, streams or lakes, or where grassland changes to woodland. On our allotments the scale is much smaller and the principle is the same. The boundary of the allotment site as a whole borders river, stream, grassland with trees, and road-pavement. Our individual plots have edges with neighbouring plots, paths, river, pavement etc.

Read more here.

Flooding on the Allotments

Thanks to Peter Feenan for these shots of Twenty Pound Meadow this week.

At the time of writing the river levels have dropped several centimetres overnight and although next week is set to be rainy there’s nothing more than a few millimetres in store on any given day.

So we can hope that the river will continue to fall and the soil starts to drain.

Reminder: check out the recent post on dealing with flooding on allotments



Glyphosate and Our Allotments

Position Paper from the Committee: Glyphosate and Our Allotments:

The presentation on the use of glyphosate on our allotments at the pre-AGM session in April 2019 asked two main questions:

  • Do we continue to sell it in the shop or stop selling it?
  • Do we do nothing about its use? Ban its use? Or make rules about its use?

The Committee were tasked with considering options and coming up with a position paper on the subject.  You can read it here.

We would like members’ feedback on the suggested guidelines for use in the paper, with a view to providing a final set to members for use over the next few years (before the 5 year EU renewal expires in 2022).  Please send your comments to the Association Secretary to collate.

The Committee believes that as an Association we should all be aiming to limit or eliminate the use of chemicals on plots.

2020 Pennard’s Potato Fair

Sunday 5th January saw this year’s Potato Fair take place – again at WOCA.  It was incredibly busy all the time from 10 until 12.30. We reckon that there even more people attended than last year – we will be able to check once Pennard Plants who organised it let us know the sales figures.

Many thanks to ODFAA people who set up tables and ODFAA stuff – they sold and distributed numerous copies of the 1919-2019 Centenary Oxford Allotments book (still available from the ODFAA website)

We have already booked Pennard Plants for next year … Jan 10th 2021 from 10:00 until 13:00.  Being a week later means they will have onion sets on sale unlike this year (sorry!)

So put the date in your diary now but we will remind you nearer the date.

Allotment Shop Refurbishment

Our Allotment Shop team have been hard at work, with the help of some talented volunteers, to refurb the shop interior – making it much easier to move around and store and find stock.  Many thanks also to several local businesses that donated unwanted items such as sinks, table tops etc.

We have now added a notice board and we think we may get a new sink from the power station when they renovate next year.

Come in and take a look for yourselves …

Crop rotation and Companion Planting Guides

Two guides from SowSeeds that may be of interest to members:

Crop rotation is the process of growing vegetables in their respective families and moving the families around a plot in a specific sequence so they are not grown on the same piece of land for at least 3 years.

Companion planting is an organic method of maintaining a natural balance in your garden, aiding pollination and keeping pest numbers down.  Most companion plants are strongly scented and confuse pests looking for their host plant.

Twenty Pound Meadow Security Fencing

Thanks to our local Councillors Susanna Pressel and Colin Cooke who stumped up the cash we have been able to take this project forward.

The Northern boundary of Twenty Pound Meadow has never had proper security fencing like the rest of the site and there have been numerous repeated break-ins over the last year.  Holes in the hedge and weak chain-link fencing are still appearing so this stronger fencing is clearly needed

The fence is progressing – about a third of it constructed so far, thanks to a volunteer work party and assistance from Oxfordshire Community Payback services.

Also – massive thanks to Jude from the Committee who is leading the work on this.

Water Harvesting spreads

The Association’s experience with solar powered water harvesting is spreading.  Nick and Phil have shown off the equipment at Botley Meadow to more than six other allotment associations.

The latest association, Spragglesea Mead & Dean’s Ham (off Abingdon Road) have just installed their system for pumping water from the lake next to them. They thanked OSTNB for leading the way on this and said that they had been asked for advice from others on similar schemes