Hartcliffe Health and Environmental Action Group – Autumn 2014

We gave a ‘helping hand’ to the Hartcliffe Health and Environmental Action Group (HHEAG) by providing a new cover for one of their poly tunnels.

On the appointed sunny morning I turned up at the allotment site as a volunteer to meet a dozen people, all connected with running HHEAG. Led by Sue Walker together with the leader of their allotment gardening and under the instruction of an expert, we were soon issued with spades and forks to make a start on digging out an eighteen inch deep trench all round the site of the poly tunnel. Great friendliness and chat amongst all of us as we laboured with the hard ground. It took most of the morning session to complete the trench.

Lunch appeared thanks to Caroline who runs the kitchen at the Gatehouse Centre with cookery courses and lunch clubs for local people. Delicious food, sitting out in the sun and getting to know people was a reward for the hard work.

Back to work and the process of putting up the supporting hooped framework. With the ends of the hoops firmly in the trenches, they could be levelled up. It was important they were evenly installed at this stage. We achieved this to the satisfaction of the expert and then it was time to unfold the polythene, yards and yards of it. Draped over the hoops it then had to be anchored in place.

Here the earth we had dug out of the trenches came into its own. Gradually backfilling the earth into the trenches on top of the polythene – each time all hands along the side to keep heaving up the polythene from under the earth to make sure the cover was as taut as possible – gradually all the earth was returned to fill the trenches and we had a new poly tunnel. The finishing touches were to create the doorway one end, a ‘window frame’ the other end for a through draught and a wire netting fence all along the outside to prevent foxes clambering up and ripping the polythene.

Now they can get on with planting up ready for growing on in the winter. The produce is used in the kitchen and sold in the community shop; all of which benefits the local community.

Wendy Pollard