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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Νῦν ἀπολύεις - Victoria Jubilee Allotments

At last!
Yes indeed! At last the waiting is over. Επιτέλους η αναμονή τελείωσε.
(Note: Adrian Stagg has reminded me that 'first come, first served basis' refers to those who added their names to a short list over the last year; not to anyone just turning up. This tends to strengthen a rumour that the Council's short list of those wishing to work plots on the VJA may already exceed the number of plots - a problem that tends to be resolved by halving plots and the inevitability of drop-outs)
We can turn from campaigning to digging, planting, growing and harvesting our own food. Last year Lin and I made a compact to share a plot with our neighbour Rachel Chiu and family, reckoning our diaries overlap enough to co-operates while being separate enough to allow a division of labour.
I spoke to Rachel this evening - just back from work, heading for a meet of the Handsworth Park Association. "See you Saturday", "What can we plant this time of year?" We pondered this. "We're away most of the summer" "But we're here until the end of August." "I think we can work on getting the soil right; perhaps get a shed put up, and plant early potatoes that'd be ready for spring 2010 along with turnips and...."
With the new allotments becoming available, it is to be hoped that the playing fields - two soccer, one cricket - plus children's playground plus changing pavilion that came with the 2004 Planning Gain Agreement (S106A), will be up and running this year (see Help Me Investigate).
2003 plan - N/01514/03/FUL - submitted to Birmingham City Council by Westbury Homes (enlarge)
E-mail from Clive Birch, Chair of Birmingham & District Allotments Association:
Been a long battle, am meeting tenants on 10th July with view to formation of allotment association.
Meeting at The Sons of Rest in Handsworth Park ~ 10 July 2010
E-mail from Adrian Stagg:
Simon, Morning. Its down to the plotholders now to make the site vibrant and hopefully one of the best in the City. We've done all we can to facilitate a high spec allotments site. Its there for people to enjoy and make their own. Adrian
E-mail from Stephen Hartland, Chair of Birmingham's Victorian Society
Well done Simon. What a way to celebrate HM's official birthday.
E-mail from Betty at Walsall Road Allotments to whom I'd passed the news:
Dear Simon. No, I hadn't heard the good news - congratulations! How many plots will be available on Saturday, and do you have a waiting-list? I hope all goes well for you and that lots of prospective plotholders turn up. Betty
E-mail from an old friend:
At last indeed. Simon was a(n even) young(er) man when he started campaigning for this development 20 years ago! And along the way prevented the site becoming entirely housing. Anyway, megathanks from myself and no doubt several dozen others for his foresight and industry, and likewise in respect of the adjoining park which he did so much to get restored, even though of course others have had a hand in making these things happen. Robin
..and another, from Zarina Bhatia:
Wow! This was just yesterday, I shall visit the site on one of my walks to the Park soon. What achievement for our so pluralistic community of Handsworth! BRAVO, Simon!
and from The Stirrer:
fantastic - well done. Adrian Goldberg
From Karen Leach, Coordinator Localise West Midlands:
fantastic news! Sorry we (bfoe) weren't much help towards the end but brilliant to hear your persistence paid off! best wishes. Karen
From Basil Hylton, Handsworth Cricket Club, long term successful campaigner for sport in Handsworth and beyond:
Hi Simon, Congratulations. The community owes you a debt of gratitude for your hard tenacious slog at this matter. Well done as gardeners can now look to securing their plots and to the fruits of their labour. Wish that the issue around cricket was going well. But then, that is a long story. You take care, and all the best. Basil
From our old childminder, Pauline Gallagher:
May the grass be green and the plots be vibrant- Well done Simon !!!!
From Ano Korakiana:
Hi Simon. Well done on the allotmen'ts side of the fence. Enjoy your digging and your fruits of hard labour. Mark.
I phoned Paul Peacock in the Pennines. He reminded me it would be tricky to get seed potatoes, but try Pentland Javelins. some turnips. lettuce, beetroot...
Previous air photo of the site before building - the old Victoria Jubilee Allotments
Air photo two years ago showing rough location of the new VJA
Nick Booth's 2000 documentary 'Losing the Plot', a BBC Midlands Report about the midway stage of the campaign to save the VJA
X-ref: Democracy Street on 'the politics of urban green space'
* * * *
I saw this pilot logo recently - for the highest quality olive oil from Corfu - a product in mind, not yet in production. I liked the Septinsular lion against Corfu's verdant green, coach green, British racing green - plus the yellow of the lion like sun shining through a bottle of oil:
* * * Meanwhile sheep shearing and wool preparation in Ano Korakiana....and I 've been pointed by Aris - who designed the logo above - towards the work of Maria Couroucli...and - scrolling down this list of research projects supported by the Latsis Foundation I see this work on local memory by Helen Hristopoulou of the Ionian University on Urban Collective Memory through Time and Space:
Urban memory is a form of collective memory developed about a place through time. Generations pass memories about their birthplaces to one another mainly through verbal narrations and testimonials of significant events occurred in the past, usually pertaining to a restricted audience of family members or members of similar small social groups. As a result, such valuable memories are isolated, not interacting with each other to designate collective memories, eventually fading away as time goes by. The project will provide a database for documenting and preserving collections of memories. Such a database will be then utilized to issue representations of Corfu memories, offering an educational environment for children and pupils. Finally, the project will offer a web-based application environment to disseminate recorded Corfu memories in terms of interactive 3D Maps, in a web context employing various semantic tags and subject descriptors to facilitate end-users to browse urban collective memory through time and space dimensions.


  1. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the heraldic approbation, and for the genuinely lovely comment on the blog.

    We've got plenty of oil at the moment (samples of which are currently floating around North London delis), but it's of the typical Corfiot 'wind-dried' variety, and not yet our "secret" boutique blend...

    If you like, we'd love to have you and Lynne over for lunch/dinner in the winter, when you can sample our eagerly-awaited batch(and when we've got running water, a wood stove and a floor).

    It'll be a hair-raising (though scenic) cycle up to our Northwestern heartland, but worth it, esp. if we amble around the olive grove (complete with ruinous ancestral hovel). A genuine offer, which we'd love to uphold.

    Equally, if you're up our way in the summer, please do pop in. It'll be authentically rustic...


    Aris & Katie

    PS Great photo, top. You look like a 19th American preacher upturning virgin soil for a Utopian community. Not entirely inapt, I hope...

  2. Θα χαρούμε. That's meant to be 'we'd be delighted' but we are only v. slowly learning to speak properly.Tell us how to find you:
    How I miss the island - even though I love it here too. I hope I never have to experience Durrell's 'amputation' for which 'all Epiceptus' could not suffice.

  3. Excellent! Email inbound.

    Your Greek is, worringly, already better than mine, it seems. Hopefully the blood will out...


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Simon Baddeley