At the same time as I got the email from the Allotment Officer, I had one from the Salvation Army, too. They were asking me whether I wanted to keep working on the bottom half of their allotment next year.
I was in a pretty bad mood at the time. I'd tried to phone the Allotment Officer and she wasn't there. I'd tried to phone the Neighbourhood Warden to complain about the Family-from-hell, but I got answered by some silly girl who put me back to the switchboard, which left me hanging on for three minutes, which cost me £2 on my mobile. When I phoned back to complain and to ask for the direct line, another girl got uppity with me. So I was all ready to take it out on someone. This is the email I sent back to the Salvation Army:
Don't take this personally, but I'll be very blunt - who are you trying to kid that you will do any better next year on even a quarter of the allotment? The Salvation Army has had that plot for goodness knows how many years, and according to John, whose house backs on to it, and who has seen them come and go, it has always been the same - you get a few people up there for a few months, then it goes back to the state it was in at the end of this summer. When I lived in Davis House, I had a number of blokes coming to "help" me - none of them stayed for long. Even now, the weeds are coming back because none of your lot has ever bothered to dig the roots out, even though I dug that part over three times and they've dug it at least three more. During the last part of this summer, i.e. the harvest period, they only came down there once in six weeks. You can't run an allotment on that basis. You need to work hard on it for several hours at least one day a week (I would say two), and that's a bare minimum. Plus you need to have them properly supervised, because none of them have got a clue. If you can't promise that commitment, you should hand it over to someone who can. I had to watch a perfectly good piece of land that I had lovingly cultivated go completely to waste this year, and did not have enough land myself to grow sufficient food for myself.
The soil on the piece of land I have now is not nearly as good as that on the Salvation Army allotment, but I am digging it over ready to put into full production next year. I will not have the time or energy to cultivate both plots. If you ask me, it is your lot who should be starting from scratch, not me, as they are men and seem to be good at digging if nothing else. However, I have no expectations of my moral right to that plot being recognised, so I am going to leave it all to you. But I think that unless you come up with a better plan than you had this year (and don't make me laugh by talking about giving each resident his own raised bed - fix the shed before you think about wasting energy building raised beds), you will find that you are unable to keep even a quarter of it properly cultivated, and will thus be in danger of losing the plot by the end of the next season by which time I will be fully committed to my own plot. I have some vegetables on yours at the moment, which I want to harvest through the winter, but come the spring, I'm going to have to leave you to it. So, if I were you I should start thinking about organising a chain gang now, because that's the only way you're going to get that lazy lot working on it.
As I said, nothing personal, but I might as well be honest, even if undiplomatic. I wish you the best of luck - you're going to need it.
PS Thanks for letting me keep it up together for you up till now!