Kettering Allotments Cultivation and Weeds policy
Our rules state a tenant must cultivate the allotment and keep it free from weeds. This policy aims to add detail in order to help tenants and field stewards interpret the rule.
To cultivate means grow and includes growing edible crops (vegetables, soft fruit), ornamental flowers and green manure. Cultivation does not include growing weeds, hence the phrase to “keep an allotment free from weeds” in the above rule. Nevertheless, there are some grey areas and subtleties with this phrase.
Most allotments if not all have some weeds at some times. Indeed, a plot that has been completely weeded and is perfectly weed-free will not remain so as new weeds will grow within days. Therefore, an absolutely literal interpretation of the phrase “to keep it free from weeds” is unreasonable. Tenants are not expected to have plots that have absolutely no weeds at all and field stewards will interpret this rule in a reasonable way. A good rule of thumb is that if there are more weeds than cultivated plants, then the rule is being broken and action is required.
The definition of a weed is also not absolute, as any experienced gardener will know. One of our common weeds is fat hen (Chenopodium album), but this plant was used as a vegetable in the Roman Empire and is still cultivated in northern India. Likewise, a self-set potato growing in a carrot row may be considered a weed as it is an unintended plant competing with the cultivated crop, although it is a useful plant.
Therefore deciding whether a plot is well cultivated and free from weeds is not always clear-cut. A reasonable approach is needed based on the guiding principles in our rules.
The guiding principles allow for a liberal approach, for all tenants to cultivate their plots in their own way as long as no harm is done. Weeds may cause harm in the following ways:-
inhibiting the growth of crops by competition, hence preventing effective cultivation.
Spreading to other plots, for example by producing seeds or through their roots.
Direct harm if poisonous or noxious (defined by the Weeds Act ,1959 and other laws)
making it difficult for a subsequent tenant to cultivate the plot (we shall all eventually relinquish our tenancy, even if it is by our eventual death, so have a responsibility to leave the allotment in a good state).
A reasonable definition of a weed is a plant with no usefulness, apart from being composted or one that harms the plot in any of the ways listed above.
A reasonable definition of cultivation is growing plants that have uses, including food, ornamentals and green manures.
A reasonable judgement that a plot is not being cultivated and kept weed-free is that there are more weeds than cultivated plants.
Stewards will inspect plots regularly and check for cultivation or excessive weeds.
If a field steward observes insufficient cultivation or excess weed presence a warning may be given to the tenant.
Normally a warning will give a period of one month to remove the weeds and carry out cultivation.
Tenants are urged to communicate clearly and regularly with their field steward and seek advice and support if the weed problem is severe or there are special circumstances. Stewards may be able to advise or support tenants themselves, or report the situation to the committee and seek support more widely.
If there is still insufficient cultivation or weed removal after one month a final warning may be issued to the tenant.
A tenant whose plot has not been cultivated for a period of three months shall be deemed to have vacated it even if the rent may have been paid. Such tenant shall have the right to appeal to the committee.
Eviction will occur unless an appeal is successful.
Policy agreed and adopted by the management committee of Kettering Allotments 2015