Some comments from members leaving Cripley Meadow....
a very few member's correspondence about what they think constitutes allotment gardening. Some of it goes on for years and could fill many pages. We could write a book but not here!
These are of a shorter and sometimes poetic nature.
Gratitude for Lotty '
Our friendship started a few years ago,
With Wendy's advice of what we might sow,
Through rain and shine we dug your earth,
Made beds and supports to prepare for the birth Of Worms, insects, veggies and birds,
Each telling their story just not with words.
The bees buzz and birds sing,Butterflies dance and the growth does bring,
Such beauty, colour and essence,And I, deeply nourished by your presence.
The more I'm with you the more I feel, And to my delight your teachings reveal.
They are simple, gentle and filled with wonder for life
That can prevail through hard times and strife.
Dearest Lotty you are such a dear friend,
Although this is goodbye it's not the end.
For you are with me always and planted seeds in my heart,
For love, for life, for nature – we are united and never apart.
Jo Davies 2011
February 2016 Thanks Wendy, We will miss our allotment very much! We hope to be able to garden in Oslo but it will a different climate! Sara, let me know what to do with the key. Best wishes, Nathalie
October 2015, Hi Wendy,It was nice to see you the other day at Cripley. Unfortunately I missed you to catch up for more of a chat later on. Bonnie and I are now moving back to Australia in a few weeks, so sadly we will have to move on from the allotment. I know Aga and Andrzej plan on staying on for another season. We have a friend who has helped us a few times and would like to take our place sharing the plot. Shall I ask her to contact you directly with membership forms? We have our keys to return now- can you let me know who I should contact to arrange this and receive the deposit back? Many thanks for some great times over the past few years. We've had a blast, expanded our gardening knowledge to include four full seasons, and will have many fond memories of Cripley Meadows. We'll always try to visit when we are in town and hope to see you about. Best wishes, Adrian and Bonnie
August 2015 Further to my previous email and after more thought I have decided from the end of the season in October I will vacate my plot. So there is now no need for a discussion at your next meeting. Growing my own food is a pleasure but the way the committee has handled this in a heavy handed and officious way has ruined the pleasure I take in my allotment. As I said before it simply wasn't necessary and nothing a 10 minute conversation couldn't have resolved. I have spent 20 years raising millions of pounds for charity as a fundraiser and I know what good communication is and how to generate good will, and this situation was handled in a such a way to generate the exact opposite effect. The last point I will make is that although I recognise the committee members give lots of time to the allotment association, you are still a volunteer body serving the needs of the allotment community not proprietors officiating over their tenants. This should always be in your mind when dealing with members of the community. So again, to confirm, I will vacate my plot in October. Mark
July 2015 I’m afraid that I finally have to admit defeat and give up my plot. I’m involved in a new job at the moment and have seen my already minimal spare time shrink to almost nothing, and that’s even before it gets started properly. I’ll try and pop down and do some tidying up in the next week but will definitely be off there before the end of the month. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to do. It’s been a pleasure being part of Cripley Meadow and I hope to be able to return, maybe with half a plot though, when life has calmed down a bit. Best wishes Damion
September 2014. I have moved out of Oxford and Roger is due to join me in October so regretfully we will have to give up our allotment. I did have a quick chat to Emily and I believe she and her partner who we currently share the plot with are keen to carry on without us. Please confirm the best way to hand over our share of the plot? Hopefully we can just return the keys to you?I would also like to say thanks for running a ship-shape allotment! We've had a lot of fun. Amy and Roger
July 2014. I am writing on behalf of myself and my husband, Luke , who has an allotment number at Cripley Meadow. We have both really enjoyed tending to our allotment, but this summer we have had some changes happen, and have to move house as Luke is changing jobs, and we would like to resign our patch so that someone can use it before the summer is over. We are unable to move our shed until August or September, but are happy for someone else to take over our patch before we are able to move the shed. We will hand in our keys to the allotment secretary after we have removed our shed. With many thanks for introducing us to the joys of having an allotment.Ellie McLaughlin
March 2014 Thank you for your understanding and encouraging reply. Sorry for the delay in our response, we have thought carefully about the idea of returning to the allotment after we are back in Oxfordshire. Though it would be wonderful to do so, it is still unclear how long the move might take and as house prices are so high in the city, we have opted for a property in a neighbouring village leaving us still a fair distance away from Cripley. We think for the sake of not wishing to neglect a space which someone would enjoy and make better use of, regretfully, we should proceed in ending our membership. However, we are happy to give a donation to cover the extra time in March we remain on the plot. With best wishes, Sarah and Chris
2014 January Sadly I'm moving away in March, so I will not be renewing my membership. I will do my working party duty in February or March, and Nicole plans to give a donation instead of doing a working party. I'll be sure to give back my key before I go, probably on subscription day. I'll continue growing vegetables in Brighton, but I doubt I'll find an allotment site anywhere that's run as well as Cripley Meadow! Best, Benj SF1
2013 November I've just planted some garlic (rather late) in my new garden in London, and am missing my big green plot at the bottom of Cripley! Thank you so much for running a such a great allotment community in Oxford and for always answering questions and giving advice whenever we asked. I will miss being a member of the site. Here is a quick, rather naff poem I just put together (poem being a loose term in this case!), hopefully illustrating my great affection for the wonderland that is Cripley Meadow! Thanks, Wendy.
The Meadows of Cripley
There once was a meadow full of plots,
And of cabbages and courgettes and pots,
The odd badger rustled through
Taking a whole sweetcorn or two
But never disturbing the lot.
And along with the pots were the sheds,
Of all sizes, shapes and animal beds,
And inside you might find,
If you're careful and kind,
A spare string of onions to swop for a cabb-edge.
Walking south from Port Meadow don't be fooled,
Hidden well is this place with its leaf mould,
But a haven not to be missed,
Full of people, smiling and sun-kissed,
Cripley Meadow, is the wonderland to behold.
Some members have asked me to add that this is not their experience. The consensus is that the badger takes and or destroys whole beds at a time.
April 2013 I regret that I'm going to have to give up my Plot 146G. I moved up to Wolvercote some time ago and found it difficult to get down often enough and so it makes sense for me to get a plot closer to home. It's been a great experience and a very pleasant allotment (weather permitting). Please let me know how I should return the key?
Best regards Simon
March 2013 In the last few weeks our scheme has gained some momentum. We have transpired from a theoretical exercise to a plan to have a contractor construct a hard standing road through the piece of land to enable us in the coming weeks to set out the individual plots and start off the Wootton and Dry Sandford Allotment group. The likely outcome is that this growing season is lost and possible late summer planting is a reasonable target. I envisage lots to do to transform a clay based field into 18 allotments.
Sadly the reality is that I will not be able to put the hours and dedication into Cripley Meadow that will be needed with most of my hours committed to the new allotment.
Thank you for the time and opportunity to participate in the Cripley Meadow allotment group. It was of course all to brief an acquaintance. Life of course can be that way on occasions. I am therefore handing back the new plot to the Cripley Allotment group to use productively. Hopefully a new tenant can be found for the coming growing season?
Susan and I will bring the two keys back in a few days time. Please kindly remind me how we may best achieve the transfer of the keys? Kindest regards Warwick and Susan
2013 12 February Following a few good years on the plot, I have moved slightly further away and work is now much busier so I am sadly going to have to give it up.I can no longer get there in the evening and weekends are hectic so it is not getting the attention it needs. I will be along to the plot by the end of February weather permitting to retrieve my tools and see if anything has survived, on my last visit everything was underwater and then under snow so I am not too hopeful. It has been a really enjoyable experience and I am very grateful to yourself and the committee for all the hard work you put in to make Cripley Meadow such a friendly and welcoming site. Kind regards Steve Lilley plot 29A
2012 December. I am writing to give up my allotment plot. I would dearly love to keep it on but I am so busy writing that I have been unable to get down there as much as I like. I would like to thank all the committee, particularly Wendy for organising everything. It has been a great opportunity and I have learnt a lot. With very best wishes, Dan Somerville College
Eric and Sarah March 2012
Unfortunately, Eric and I are now living some distance from the our little allotment patch and think we must give it up as we won't be able to make the most of it. It has given us great pleasure over the last two years! We have taken our tools and tidied the plot ready for the next person.
Just call us the South Field Pioneers… Cripley Meadow Allotments
Posted on January 5, 2012 by
Cripley Meadow: South Field Pioneers
So excited. Today we were given a tour of the Cripley Meadow Allotments by their chair and allotment-cultivator-extraordinaire. Amazing. Over a very short space of time this area of flood plains has been transformed from an overgrown bramble wilderness to a massively productive, well cultivated area. Just walking around it, one is struck by the amount of hard work and love that has gone into transforming the area. Metal sculptures crafted from rusty garden forks uncovered from the digging tell a story of waste disposal and waste redemption. After decades of being used as a dumping ground, the removal of metal and glass from the earth gives you an amazing feeling of wholesome cleanliness and revitalisation, just standing there. We, um, kind of liked it. They have recently …. reclaimed yet more land for allotments. And they’ve given us one of the patches. The ‘South Field’. Think ‘The North Face’, but a bit more Oxford. It’s essentially a bare patch of earth, with the remnants of nettles, thistles and brambles awaiting the spring sun to herald their march to domination once more.
But we’ll be there. Ready to dig and play our part in cultivating the land. We’re so excited. Thinking about some new Hunter’s. I’ll let you know how we get on.
January 2012 from Stephane, Maria, Yael and Yonathan Plot 68e We are writing you to let how know how much we enjoyed working the plot over the last year and thank you for your support, flexibility and patience. We really appreciate the great work you do which allows the allotments to function so smoothly and the site to be so pleasent. We have had to move to London because of Yonathan's job, and one of the top reasons we are sad to leave is Cripley Meadow allotments. If we come back in the future we hope we can continue to be part of this great community initiative. We hope we left the plot in good condition (we cleaned and covered it) and that the next people to work it will get as much out of it as we did - it was nutritious for both body and soul. Best wishes to all for next year
27th May 2011
As Barry has told you we are moving to Spain at the end of July which is very exciting but does mean we will sadly be giving up our allotment plots then. So if you have anyone waiting to take over they can do so from the 1st August. I'd also like to donate the few tools I have to the association. I have so enjoyed having an allotment, and want to thank everyone on the committee who works so hard to make Cripley Meadows such a friendly, relaxing and well organised space. Thanks particularly to Wendy. The allotment has been an absolute oasis of calm and sanity to a stressed teacher over the last few years! I've insisted on at least having a balcony in Valencia so I can grow veg in a few pots! Will leave tools on your plot and hand in key to Sheila when the time comes. Miranda plot 47E
February 2011 Hayley 47hSadly we will not be renewing our membership as my husband has been offered a job in the USA so we're emigrating in early June 2011!We've had an amazing food year at Cripley Meadow - despite only starting in May last year - and we can't wait to get planting in our new garden as soon as we get to the States. We've loved meeting people on the site in the evenings and on weekends, and loved the community spirit of Plot 47, as well as John next door.Thanks for running a great site. Best wishes Hayley
29 July 2010
Dear Wendy, I am writing to let you know that the two groups who visited Cripley Meadow yesterday started today's class by telling me how much they enjoyed the visit. They found it instructive and inspirational in equal shares. I am extremely grateful to you and to the association for giving us the opportunity to draw important lessons from your work. On their behalf and mine, thank you very much again. Best, Carlos
February 2011Michael and Abigail Plot 67b Thank you very much for the newsletter - it's inspiring to see all that has been done. You seem to have endless energy - must be the homegrown veg! I am e-mailing to say that, very reluctantly, I'm afraid I shall have to give up my plot. While I was on Study Leave, I had time to give to it, but since I started my job I have been working every evening and every Sunday - which leaves only Saturday to do the domestic chores, see friends etc. So I have not been able to give it the time and loving attention it deserves, and I think it would be better to hand it into the care of someone who can look after it properly. As I say, I am sending this e-mail very reluctantly, because I hugely enjoy the allotment when I have time to give to it, and it is such a good corporate venture of which to be a part. Thank you so much for all your help and advice when we started. Michael and Abigail
Jo Davies, a member since 2007 is moving to Devon. She hopes eventually to have more space to grow her own. Her wonderful plot was celebrated as the Under 35s best plot in Oxford City in 2010. It was a wonderfully stocked and varied plot. We wish her the very best. She sent us this poem. 'Gratitude for Lotty '
Our friendship started a few years ago, With Wendy's advice of what we might sow,Through rain and shine we dug your earth, Made beds and supports to prepare for the birth Of Worms, insects, veggies and birds,Each telling their story just not with words.
The bees buzz and birds sing,Butterflies dance and the growth does bring,Such beauty, colour and essence,And I, deeply nourished by your presence. The more I'm with you the more I feel, And to my delight your teachings reveal. They are simple, gentle and filled with wonder for lifeThat can prevail through hard times and strife.
Dearest Lotty you are such a dear friend,Although this is goodbye it's not the end.For you are with me always and planted seeds in my heart,For love, for life, for nature – we are united and never apart. Jo Davies August 2011November 2010
Dave Plot 102 This notice was sent out to members in November. Published in the Oxford Mail on 26 November 2010 David Passed away peacefully at home on 23 November 2010. Aged 56. Much loved son, brother, brother-in-law and uncle. Sadly missed by all who knew him. Funeral service to be held at the Oxford Crematorium on Friday 3 December at 1.30pm. Family flowers only, donations if desired to Macmillan Nurses c/o Reeves and Pain, 288 Abingdon Road, Oxford OX1 4TE.
The committee felt many of you would like to be informed of this sad news. Our records show Dave had been a member since 1987, working plot 32 with his dad and then 102. A few years ago having been a ‘potato and onion man’ for years Dave was tempted into growing flowers by his sister and his plot took on a new life with a wide array of flowers throughout the year alongside a wider range of vegetables, a beautifully tended grass patch and a newly painted shed and trellis. He and his dad were widely known to many by sight as until a few years ago he and his dad walked jack the Scottie dog around the site daily.Dave was diagnosed with throat cancer earlier in the year and the plot became an important part of his day. He and John Langsbury were responsible for painting our association shed and Dave will be sorely missed by his plot neighbours. He was a quiet man but always ready to exchange a few words about his allotment and he was always extremely supportive of the association.
We sent our condolences to his family. His brother, Richard will continue work on the plot.
A note on membershipFrom 2005 to 2015 Cripley Meadow has been being reclaimed and developed and we have had some 600 members come and go. We have quite a variety of plot sizes and welcome students so we often have a turnover. The turnover averages about 20 members during that time and we have had periods with waiting list where members do not get a plot for some time. This is rarely longer than a year. In 2005 we had just 70 members as much of the site was unusable and about half the members were rarely seen. Since 2008 we have r this time we have an average of 230 (highest 285, lowest 217) per year. During the last 10 years we have established 2 site audits a year (May /June and October ) and in that time we have issued 12 notices to quit. This is a after a final notice and is when we have failed to agree a way of working with a member that is acceptable to the members rules, as agreed by our AGM. In that time some 15 members have left us telling us they have been unhappy with the site, the committee, or both! Our twice yearly audits always give time for members to come within the rules and we are understanding when members have troubled times. but we also try to ensure a level playing filed so that other members do not suffer the weeds and misfortunes of a few. Our experience is that however much time we give a few they cannot give up even when they just do not have the time to manage it. It is almost always a matter of time although in a few cases accumulations of stuff on plots has played quite a part. Allotments cannot be a cheap storage facility nor a recycling yard. None of the leaving correspondence associated with NTQ is here. Sometimes it runs to Many pages, and in a few cases covers many years. Much of it is the stuff allotment lore is made of....maybe one day there is a book in the making. Our members are the guardians of growing land for a time and we hope they consider the many who will follow.. however it can bring out territorial demands in some and the amount of rubbish and clearing up left by the few is always challenging.