FAQ

Frequently asked questions

How is the site run?

Self Management

Since 2013, all sites in Barnet are Self Managing, this means that sites are leased from Barnet Council, and the Council no longer has any responsibility for the maintenance and management of sites.  We now all have responsibility for our management.

Our Committee meets regularly, and Minutes from the meetings are available on this site to all plot holders.

Committee members have responsibilities including Secretary, Chair, Treasurer, Rent Officer, Shop manager, and organisation of events. The main roles are voted in each year at the AGM in November. Every plot holder is encouraged to come to the AGM, become a Committee member and get involved.

Annual events include the Annual Plant Sale, Annual Show and Barbecue. These all require volunteers. The shop is also run by volunteers, and there are Volunteer Work Parties arranged by the Volunteer Coordinator.

Everybody is involved in Self Management.

Paying for your allotment

When is my rent money due?

Rent is due in October of each year.

Many hours of volunteer time are dedicated to ensuring the rents are in, so please do your bit to make it go smoothly.

All Members must come to the Trading Hut to pay in person. If you are not able to pay on any Sunday (10-12:00) during October, there will be the option of at least one Saturday in October, which will be publicised by email and on notices on site.

I definitely can’t pay in October, what shall I do?

It is your responsibility to let the Rent Officer know, so that an alternative time can be agreed.

Why can’t I pay by BACS?

We are run by volunteers and we do not have the time that organisations with paid staff have to check accounts against records. It is more efficient for us to collect the rent by the current system, which is why it is also the way that other sites collect their rents.

How is rent money used?

We aim to have enough rent monies in savings to cover any potential threats to our site (e.g.problems with boundaries, water, trees, roadway), while improving it for as little investment as possible (e.g. by voluntary activity).

Using your allotment

What do I have to do on my plot?

You must cultivate your plot to our minimum standards: in the first year one third must be cultivated. In the second year two thirds must be cultivated, working up to a well managed plot in the third year and thereafter.

What does ‘cultivation’ mean?

Improving the soil, planting and growing. When the site is inspected, there must be evidence of planting and growing by you.

Please note that you will not achieve the minimum standard of cultivation if you do not work regularly on your plot.

The good news is, the more work you put in to start with, the easier it will get over the years!

What should I do about weeds?

Make sure to regularly weed your own plot, ideally by hand pulling, forking or hoeing. Please note that you are not allowed to use weed killers (or chemical fertilisers) in Field 3, which is designated organic.

Most weeds are easily managed by regular weeding. There are only a few which are pernicious. These include: bindweed, ground elder, bramble, Horse’s Tail, and Japanese Knotweed (luckily we don’t have this one!)

We strongly advise that you DO NOT rotavate your plot . Rotavation will increase pernicious weeds by chopping the roots up so that they can multiply. We also strongly discourage the use of carpet to suppress weeds. Carpets leach harmful chemicals into the soil, and are extremely difficult to remove once embedded in the ground.

There are better alternatives, such as:

Mulching your plot will help to suppress weeds. Ask a Committee member about how to order free compost deliveries to the site. You need to put a layer of at least 6mm to suppress weeds.

Weed matting is sold in the Shop. If you cover grassed/weed covered areas for a season, the vegetation will break down and the ground should be much easier to dig.

Raised beds are often a good idea.

This is harder than I thought! What help can I get if I’m new to allotmenting?

We want you to succeed, so we try to help if we can.

Look out for the monthly tips in our newsletter so that you don’t get behind in Spring. Watch what your neighbours do, and ask them, or ask the Rents Officer for advice.

Walk around the site and identify different styles of allotmenting that you like. Most plot holders are happy to talk about their plots, and many will show you around. Find out what they do to have a ‘well managed plot’.

Above all, keep coming and working regularly if you want to get results.

What happens if I don’t achieve the minimum standards?

The first thing you should do is to get in touch with the Rent Officer to discuss.

The site is inspected in June and September. If it looks like you won’t achieve the minimum standard by September, we will write to you as soon as we can after the inspection in June.

You will be given guidance on how to achieve the standards.

If you haven’t achieved the minimum when the site is inspected in September your tenancy may not be renewed in October when rents are due.

What can I grow on my plot?

Vegetables, herbs, fruit bushes and dwarf stock fruit trees (these grow 2-3m high,they are easier to harvest and won’t overshadow your plot).

Fruit trees and bushes must be planted at least three feet from your neighbours.

You can also grow flowers, dig a pond, and have an area for recreation, but your plot must retain it’s purpose as a place to grow crops.

What can’t I grow?

DO NOT plant any trees except dwarf stock fruit trees. DO NOT plant any shrubs.

Why can’t I plant shrubs and trees?

Because they will grow and be difficult to dig up, cut down or remove.

Look around the site. In some places there are plots which cannot be used because they have reverted to forest. Although forest trees are beautiful, if they are in the wrong place, they will make it very difficult to grow crops.  When planting, think about the future of our site.  

Can I keep bees?

Only if you have experience and are linked to the Barnet Federation of Bee Keepers. Bees which are not kept correctly are at risk, and may also swarm causing injury.

If you are eligible to keep bees you can only do so on plots where this is agreed by the Committee.

Can I keep hens?

No, we cannot keep any livestock (chickens, rabbits, pigs, goats, cows etc).

Can I bring my dog?

Yes, but he or she must be on the leash (or in a secure dog run) for the entire time they are off the main drive and on your plot.

Potential problems

Can I get my neighbours to remove overhanging trees or plants?

Ask if it is possible for them to cut down or prune back overhanging trees and plants. If they can’t do it, offer to do it for the benefit of both of you.

If they are not happy with your plans, talk to the Committee.

What can I do about (my neighbours’) weeds?

If your neighbour is not cultivating their plot, ask the Rent Officer and another member of the Committee to inspect it, and if there are concerns they will contact them.

What can I do about (my neighbours) going over boundaries?

Please report this to the Committee. Breaches of boundaries are taken very seriously.

Please be aware that you risk damaging the plumbing system if you dig or fork over the boundary of your plot; you could make your path more attractive to intruders if it does not have clear sight lines, and also risk damaging your relationship with your neighbours.

It is not allowed to enter any plot without an invitation from the plot holder. You must not take anything from any plot, regardless of whether it appears to be neglected.

What about nuisance from my neighbours?

Ask them to stop. Allotmenting should be a relaxing, peaceful activity. If they don’t stop, please talk to the Committee about the problem.

Can I put up fences?

No. Allotments are not private property.

Improving your plot

Can I build a shed?

Yes. You can build or erect a shed of no larger than 2.5m in height. Greenhouses and poly-tunnels are also allowed (same height restriction). Structures including sheds, poly-tunnels and greenhouses must not cover more than 20% of the area of your plot.

Try to site your shed and green house or poly tunnel in a position that is not too visible from outside, to reduce risk of vandalism and be considerate to your neighbours.

What can I do about rubbish on my plot?

We arrange rubbish removal collections at least twice a year. Please help your neighbours if they are unable to bring rubbish to the collection points on the main drive.

You must not dump rubbish anywhere on site, including the boundaries of fields, parking areas,and road.

Can I bring potentially useful stuff to my plot and store it there until I find a use for it?

Piles of stuff can be hazardous to you, so to avoid accidents, please try not to bring things to your plot which can be a fire hazard, provide shelter for pests such as rats, and will later have to be removed.

Rubbish removal is a considerable expense, especially when new people take on plots and have to remove piles of stuff, so you will be asked to remove it if it is a potential problem.

What can I do about organic waste, such as weeds and prunings?

You can compost most organic material including most weeds – just put them in the compost heap before they set seed and the heat of your pile will destroy any problems. Compost is a free resource that will improve your soil texture and fertility, and a compost heap is a good sign of a well managed plot.

You can burn pernicious weeds such as bind weed roots and bramble. Alternatively you can take them to the local dump, where the heat of a very large heap will destroy them.

You must not dump organic waste anywhere on site, nor put it out to be removed in a rubbish collection.

Security and Safety

Can I have a bonfire whenever I want?

No, at certain times of the year there is a risk that local residents may complain.

Rules:

  • 1st November to 30th April – any time but please consider the direction of the wind
  • 1st May to 30th September – complete ban except for the first Wednesday of July, August and September
  • October only after 4.00pm

Can I have a barbecue?

Yes, but if it is during a time when we are not allowed bonfires, make sure that it does not look like a bonfire to residents in the area, who may complain if they see smoke. We have an Annual Barbecue when all plot holders are invited, and this is in a position where the fire service can see that it is not a bonfire.

Check with your neighbours that they are ok with the time of your barbecue, and if you are having guests, please do not allow them to wander around the site without you, as unknown people may be a worry for plot holders, as thefts sometimes occur.

What should I do if I see someone I don’t know on site?

Don’t be afraid to ask people what they are doing. They may be plot holders you don’t know, who are looking around, or Committee members – you can easily check which plot they come from by asking a few questions. If they are members of the public, let them know where the public footpaths are (the drive and the first path after the gate on the left – on Holden Road Field).

What do I do if I see evidence of theft, vandalism or other crime?

Call 111 (local police). If the perpetrator(s) are present, call 999 from a safe distance.

Wait for the police to arrive so that you can show them what you saw. Give them as much information as you can, especially if you saw anyone.

Inform the Committee after, not before, you inform the police.

What do I do if I notice a leaking tap or pipe?

Call the Allotment phone, or Rents Officer immediately. Please put these numbers in your phone to save time and money if we need a plumber.

Allotment phone: 07546 279631

Les Moore (Rent Officer) : 07957 388033

Do I have to lock the gate?

You can leave the gate open on Sunday 10-12, when the Trading Hut is open, and annual events. You will see a notice on the gate if there is an event.

Please lock the gate every other time you arrive and leave, and also lock the gate if you find it open when you arrive or leave.

You have to lock the gate to reduce fly-tipping, vandalism and theft, and to keep your tenancy.

An open gate ‘invites’ people to wander in.

Tip: keep your gate key in your vehicle (not on your vehicle key ring), this makes it easier and quicker to get out and lock the gate.

What do I do if I have an accident or someone else has an accident?

You should keep a First Aid box in your shed or car. There is also one in the Trading Hut.

Call an ambulance if needed.

You will need to give the allotment address: Holden Road, London N12 7DX

Keep your plot and surrounding paths tidy and level, to reduce the risk of accidents.

Contact the Committee if you have First Aid Certificate or are medically trained, to add your name to the volunteers who can help if needed.

Report it to a Committee member to be put in the Incident Book.

Site facilities

When is the Shop open?

It is open on Sunday mornings, from 10am – 12:00.

Why isn’t it open at other times?

The shop is run by volunteers and weekends are the most convenient for most people.

Please look out for requests for help when deliveries come in, and consider volunteering in the Shop.

What does the Shop stock?

Each year the Shop Sub-group reviews what has sold well and what people have requested.

We aim to provide good value for money and offer an opportunity to come and talk to a member of the committee while also raising a little money for the association so you can give support by making a few purchases.

What if there is something I want which is not on sale?

Put your requests in the Comments and Suggestions book. The Shop Sub-group may also send out a questionnaire. The Treasurer approves an amount of our funds to spend each year on stock. We have to buy in bulk, with limited funds, so we may not be able to meet every request, but the Shop Sub Group work hard to get in what people want.

Does the Shop have strimmers and other equipment available for use?

This year (2016) we are going to trial lending out equipment including strimmers and a mower, which have been donated to our site. Users will have to agree to H&S conditions of use, and the equipment will only be available to use when the Trading Hut is open, so it will need to be checked out at 10am, and returned by 12:00. If this works out we will consider investing more of our funds into purchasing equipment for use, free of charge, by plot holders.

Are there toilets on site?

We have two disabled access, composting toilets at either end of the site. To use these you must have a short induction, as they are not quite the same as usual toilets. All those who use the toilets are responsible for keeping them clean and tidy, and collecting supplies from the Trading Hut as needed.

What about the communal areas – paths and driveway. Whose job is it to do those?

It’s everybody’s job! You must maintain the path between you and your neighbour, so that it is safe to walk on.

Please do what you can to maintain our site – even small actions are helpful, such as carrying a pair of secateurs so that you can cut back any overhanging vegetation as you walk to your plot. Try to take a few extra minutes to strim or mow some of the communal areas, including the roadway vegetation when you do your plot.

If you have carpentry skills you may want to get involved with a Work Party to make a gate for your field.

Or you may like to join a Work Party do some dry hedging or planting hedgerow to strengthen our boundaries.

Come to the AGM to discuss options for keeping our site tidy and well maintained, or get in touch with the Volunteer Co-ordinator.

Why is the water turned off in the winter?

If we don’t turn the water off in the winter, the pipes will freeze, burst, and cost us a lot of money to repair.

Giving up my plot

If I move out of area do I need to give up my plot?

Residents of Barnet, and nearby boroughs, including Camden and Islington, can have plots in Barnet. If you are moving out of these areas you may be able to keep your plot, if it is well managed, but please consider whether it will be possible for you to keep coming regularly.

I’m giving up my plot. What do I need to do?

Please let the Rents Officer know as soon as possible. Please arrange a time to meet and return your gate key, and to check that your plot is free of rubbish.

You should remove all your belongings within an agreed time, after you have let the Rents Officer know that you plan to leave.

You must return your key to get your £10.00 deposit back.

Can I pass my plot to a friend or relative?

Yes, this is usually a good idea. Please make sure that the Committee/Rent Officer is informed, and has the correct contact details of the person taking the plot over.

Can I sell my shed/tools etc to the new plot holder?

Generally, what you find on the plot becomes your’s and what you leave on the plot is not your’s any more. You cannot make arrangements via the Committee to sell anything to a new plot holder who you have not met. You can make your own arrangements to sell your belongings before you leave, if you wish.

I’ve been asked to give up my plot, can I appeal?

Yes.

Since 2012 AGM, you are on probation for three years when you take on a plot.

You will have gone through a process of discussion about your neglect of your plot, lack of cultivation or possibly infringement of our rules/upsetting your neighbours. If appropriate, you will have been made an offer to move to a more manageable plot, or reduce your plot(s), to give you a chance to succeed. The Committee will also consider all of the positive actions you may have taken, including work to your plot, voluntary work on site, etc, and any health or personal issues. All of this is weighed up before a decision is made at Committee meeting to ask you to give up your plot.

If you feel that the decision was not fair, please write to the Committee Secretary, stating your reasons. You may be asked to attend a Committee meeting to discuss this further.

Finally, a thank you

Many thanks to all the plots holders, old and new, who contributed to this list of FAQ. We try to keep the rules reasonable and to have as few as possible. Please remember that your tenancy is renewed each year, provided you keep to the rules. Any breaches may result in the termination of your tenancy.