Respect the past, restore the present, protect the future
As the Google Earth timelapse below highlights, the four acre lands at Glencullen Allotments have undergone change over the past decade. Pre- 2009, the smallholding was purely pastural. With the introduction of allotment farming, the previous owner laid a gravel path up to staked off plots. He drilled a private well and plumbed up spring water to a dozen or more taps, shared between 48 allotments. A sewage tank and toilet block was installed with flushing loo and hand basin and containers housed machinery and tools.
On taking ownership of the land and management of the allotments, Jonny set to the considerable task of clearing up. Allotments can be a messy business. In the years subsequent to their heyday, many of the disused allotments fell in to disrepair. One byproduct of vacated allotments, as evidenced by the debris unearthed during the clean-up, is discarded waste. All manner of garden tools, mesh fabrics, plastic containers, metal frames, glass panes, ornamental rockeries, pond liners and synthetic materials have come to the surface. That, combined with the fact that the previous owner was in construction and used the space as a dumping ground, compounded matters!
July to date has been mainly about maintenance and familiarisation with allotment management. Paths have been cut, grass strimmed, potholes filled, rocks moved, posts driven, fences fortified. But moreso, fences have been taken down, posts removed, earth dug, plots rotavated, rubbish collected and removed. A skip’s worth of scaffolding and metal and wire and bricks and tiles and slates and plastic and pipes was filled and taken away.
The job at hand is to restore the derelict allotments, sure up the existing plots and patch up the boundary fences. Working steadily through the old allotments, it’s clear that all too often in the past, land lease holders upped sticks and left, leaving behind a trail of odds and sods. This can’t continue. In line with our “leave no trace” philosophy, land should be left as it was found, if not in even better condition. It’s about respect; Respect for the owner and other users of the allotments, but more importantly, respect for the earth and the local environment.
In order to ensure that our ethos of an eco-friendly approach to GIY is upheld, a refundable deposit of €100 will be compulsory in conjunction with the annual licence agreement fee. Sustainable small-scale farming is all about community and mutual respect, people working together and protecting that which they pass on to the next-generation, be it at the end of the year or in many years to come. This new measure is designed for the benefit of all stakeholders at Glencullen Farm and it is hoped will be embraced.
Both licencee and licencor have responsibilities to one another. As farm manager, Jonny is committed to providing a high standard of allotment infrastructure and amenities. This means being a steward of the soil, upholding best garden practice, restricting the use of chemicals, synthetic materials and the introduction of invasive species, prohibiting structural works, upholding allotment rules, the restoration of allotment and boundary fences, maintaining the facilities and ensuring a healthy environment for all to enjoy.
Glencullen Farm welcomes conscientious cultivation. We want our allotments to be rich in natural soil nutrients and blanketed in healthy plant life. Manure is being made readily available for existing allotments and spread over newly marked plots to enhance the soil microbiology and encourage bacteria and organisms to feed, and in turn feed in to, the soil composition. Composting is applauded and wormeries are a winner. Soil, water and sunlight are critical components of horticulture. We are privileged with our vantage East to West, affording a desirable range of daylight. We have the naturally rich soil of the land and thanks to the private well tapping in to Glencullen’s pristine water table, we have quality water on demand. Not to mention it rains regularly. The location, at over 800ft above sea level, offers a complex climate and dynamic environment. All told, Glencullen Farm is ripe with potential. It’s up to us to nurture it to fruition.