Plot Inspections… A brief explanation of what they are and why we do them

We thought it might be helpful to try to demystify the plot inspection process. So this blog post is intended to explain why plot inspections are necessary and what actually takes place.

Firstly, the why…

Most simply, because it is a condition of our lease agreement with the local council, to ensure that the land is being cultivated. But also because one of the primary purposes of Marina Allotments is to offer space for growing food to local people. We have a long waiting list and it’s unfair if plots are being neglected, preventing others from using the land productively. In addition unmanaged plots can negatively impact other plots, by allowing the spread of weeds, vegetation and disease, or by not maintaining pathways, making it difficult or dangerous for others to access their plots.

What are we inspecting?

What we’re looking for when undertaking the plot inspections is primarily to see that plots are being well used. The members tenancy agreement requires that at least 75% of a plot is cultivated, with not more than 25% used for recreational purposes and storage. Cultivation means digging, mulching, pruning, weeding and planting for the production of vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers or other ornamental plants. A lawn does not count as cultivation. We don’t measure the exact area, but rather want to see that plots are being used to their full potential. New members are given a year to get up to “full” cultivation in recognition of the time it often takes to work a new plot which may have been previously neglected.

In addition, plots should be free from debris and contamination. Members should remove non-compostable waste for disposal at home or the local refuse and recycling centre.

Finally, plots should be safe. This means pathways bordering the plot should be even, mown and free from obstruction.

How and when do inspections take place?

We try to inspect at least two or three times a year. This is to ensure plots are not left to deteriorate for many months at a time. The committee share the responsibility for inspecting plots, which we normally do over a few days. We then discuss any issues before contacting members.

What happens next?

After plot inspections have taken place, we will contact any members whose plots are not meeting the required standards. The majority of these cases will be a relatively informal email, outlining where improvements are required. In cases where a plot is severely neglected or dangerous, or where previous requests to improve have not been met, a formal “Notice to Improve” will be issued giving 14 days for improvement. Failure to improve the plot will lead to a “Notice to Act” being served giving a further 14 days to carry out any improvement. Failure to improve after this period will lead to termination of the tenancy. In all cases, the intention is not to intimidate or worry members, but to be efficient and fair for the benefit of all members.

If you cannot commit the time necessary and are struggling to keep your plot cultivated, talk to a committee member or email the committee at the earliest opportunity. We will always try as far as possible to be supportive and to help you manage your plot, connect you with a new associate member or move you to a smaller plot. If there are extenuating circumstances you think we should know about, please also let the committee know as soon as possible.