We have been reclaiming Cripley Meadow since the end of 2005. The photo shows one of our biggest problems ...rubbish! So far we have had to remove over £20,000 worth, some accumulated over 100 years of bringing on 'useful things' and some simply modern dumping and some the result of members using the site as cheap storage. We are now careful not to let waste accumulate so that our children's children do not have the same problem... but we try to encourage inventive recycling. Please remember an attractive, productive and cultivated plot/site is a healthy and safe plot/site.
Cripley Reclamation 2008
Reclamation Project 2009
We have let Plot 84 and 109 which are not sutable for cultivation have Arcadian Living as the member. They use it as a collection point for grass currings and hedge trimmings. They are members and are required to keep keep it cut and turned. Members can use the grass cuttings in their compost or as green mulch if they wish and they can take the rough compost when it has been turned and cooked! We expect that the gradual accumulation and of composted material ill raise the level of plots that are too low. Arcadian Living donate money to our site to help with road maintenance.
Reclamation 2010-2011 (See photo gallery)
2009 Application to OCC/National Lottery for Grant aid for Reclamation Project Disused ground (2009-2011)
Estimated overall cost £10 to 15,000 dependent on fencing.
Cripley Meadow could contribute £2000 (£1000 for 2009 and 2010 as this is our budgeted reclamation fund for these years. We have had a grant of £2,600 from OCC. This is designated statutory allotment land within our lease which has been unused for some years. Cripley Meadow is full and like other sites we have waiting lists so we aim to try to bring this area back into cultivation. We are responsible for it but cannot maintain, sustain nor protect it in its present state. It has suffered from the continued threat of rough sleepers. In February 2010 groups of sleepers had to be removed by Park Ranger Team. The willow trees bordering this land and some self set trees are now at cracking height. If these crack and layer it puts our present new fencing at risk and it will be much more difficult to reclaim the land to use for its designated purpose.
If successful reclaiming this area could bring back the equivalent of c.20 plots. The project has a number of unknowns as the site is not readily accessible and was previously riddled by bottle diggers which now make it treacherous terrain. We need to proceed in stages and assess the quality of the land. The area has some internal trees self seeded whilst disused. These are mostly willow with a few ash and sycamore. The majority of the tree work is pollarding willow around the boundary in order to manage the land and sustain the longevity of the trees. As always the Tree Officer would be in charge of the tree management decisions. We aim to try to establish a section of ground on the RHS leaving a badger corridor around the sett. We would leave the trees here which would also offer a buffer to the Castle Mill and Venneit Close flats. One self set tree is a particularly fine ash forest grown with space to provide a handsome specimen. We will need to talk to OCC about future maintenance of this land as it is no longer available for allotments due to the badger sett. The main badger sett is on Castle Mill unused with another in the copse by the car park.
We would need to level the ground as it is presently unworkable with many potholes and rubbish. WE could then mow off to establish a useable base for cultivation. We need secure fencing to manage the badger population and allow badgers and plotholders’ to be neighbourly. We have had advice from both the local badger group and Natural England. Their advice is that we limit the badger land available so that the sett is retained but not expanded unduly. Sadly the badgers are losing friends amongst an increasing number of potholders’ as their destructive behaviour takes out many hours of cultivation and crops. New members could be there I year after mowing off for a year providing the necessary fencing can be installed. This will involve finding additional funding.
This will return statutory, designated allotment land, which was fenced by OCC in 1991, to use as plots. We have reported it as dangerous on a number of occasions over the past four years, particularly as it is not accessible for use so cannot be monitored, maintained nor used. Consequently the clearance and fencing should be as concurrent as possible. Like the rest of the site this is divided from the towpath by Fiddlers Stream and at the southern tip by nothing more than the latter. For the rest of its western boundary it has an additional strip of land adjacent to Fiddlers Drain. Unfortunately the drain is now mostly filled due to the layering of willows and lack of any maintenance. In 2007 it was decided by Parks that our new fence could not be placed along our outside boundary due to the need for this tree pollarding and clearance which made access impossible. It was then planned to move the fence when clearance of this land was possible. The drain was due to be cleared to make our other boundary but this was never completed so we are still open on two sides.
We estimate this is c.3 acres here and we hope to reclaim 2 acres which is potential for c. 25x10 pole plots (or the equivalent in smaller plot sizes). We could use this to accommodate our waiting list (July 2009) with some additional space to accommodate some from other sites as there are c.200 recorded across the city. Our waiting list has been between 10 and 20 since September 2008. We take seriously the proper use of the site in accordance with our lease and do two audits a year and are working towards ensuring plots are being used in accordance with our rules. We have accommodated 30+ new members from Sept 2008 to June 2009 and managed 45 new members since then. Some of these are changing memberships as we have a thriving PHD student population. This reclamation will require the (previously planned re-location of our temporary boundary security fence ONLY when appropriate and safe to do so. The other boundaries have some variable fencing from the Castle Mill and Venneit Close developments.
We cannot measure the disused land but information on Google earth suggests there may be 50m additional need for boundary fencing if the land is usable up to the boundary. If so this would require either additional fencing or a modification of our usable boundary. As this land has not been worked we have no experience on site of what it is like. We do however have the oral record of an uncle of a present member who had a plot about 2/3rds of the way down and left ample evidence of snowdrops. There were still plots evident when it was fenced in 1991.
We have an ongoing Local Food’ lottery funded reclamation project (with an award of 10,000) for which we have committed much of our voluntary working parties (First Sunday in the month 10.30 to -12 30hrs and First Wednesday evening May to Sept 6-8pm) over the next two years.
There has been substantial development of new housing in the area served by Cripley Meadow much of it flats or housing (some social) with very small/no gardens. More building is ongoing. We have a culturally diverse membership and operate an equal opportunities policy. Any member can apply to the committee for a reduction in the cost of a plot if they are experiencing financial difficulty.
We have a proven track record in reclaiming Cripley Meadow. Since 2005 we have brought over 100 plots back into active cultivation. We have in the process engaged the support of local organisations and local businesses: for example, the Co-op, Berkeley Homes and M&M Skips have all contributed funding, time, machinery and/or expertise. However we think it was primarily our willingness to make the most of our committee and members' experience and hard work. Our members are mostly local to Jericho/ City Centre area where affluence sits beside pockets of poverty, loneliness and multi occupancy.
Enabling people to grow food makes it as accessible, affordable and environmental with a short route from ‘plot to pot’. As can be seen from our website we have developed a systematic and planned approach to reclaiming Cripley Meadow however we must recognise we already have a major voluntary project ongoing in reclaiming Cripley Island so our contribution may be limited by this.
The project was delayed by investigations which required contact with Natural England in managing the work with reference to the badger population. We also consulted the local badger group. We were cleared to do the work and advised that Oxford City Council would only need to make an application for a license to work if cause arose during work.
Shaun Gibson and James Dixon (horticultural manager) visited in April 2010 to advise re tree management. Shaun Gibson (tree officer) to organise tree marking asap and work will begin during July 2010. The area was strimmed first to provide access channels and then tree work started. The boundary willows were left until a later date.
In July we made a Lottery Application for funding to move the fence and complete hard landscaping or paths/association shed. In Sptemeber we were awarded National Lottery funding for moving fence and Oxford University offered to complete with Badger fencing as they are now developing Castel Mill and have closed and moved a sett. Provision will be made for acess in accordance with Natural England advice. We removed the rubbish, and laid the path and In October the trees were pollarded to let in light. The fence was moved and badger proofed with Oxford University funding in November. The South Field was opened on November 27th. Almost all the plots were gone by the end of December.
2014 We applied for a National Lottery Awards for All grant to part fund a shredder, a new water butt on the South Field and Ground Cover. We were awarded 2,958.
To be added
OCC grant for build raised beds. 2015
OCC Orchard maintenance grants 2016