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in The potting shed
Basically I'm absolutely shocked, devastated in tears and completely don't know what to do!
Background history... We moved to Olney in October, we applied for an allotment on January 3rd and got an email saying an allotment was available on 6th August. Husband went to look at the 3 allotments available on friday 11th January and we fell in love wth a five pole allotment with a shed, fruitcages and water butts, composters the lot it was well maintained, perfect. We put our appliation in and on saturday 12th January it was ours.
Only hiccup was that the previous person passed away and the shed wasn't emptied, the guy that showed my husband around told us the son would come that weekend and empty the shed. So we left the shed as it was because of the sensitivity of the passing.
Fast forward to last weekend, we started doing some major work on the allotment. We turned the soil, we built a cold frame, we made a herb bed, planted up fruit bushes and strawberries we took all our terracotta pots over ready to start planting, we put a menbrain down and bark in the fruitcage to control the weeds. It looked amazing, I got taking photos and everything, especially of my coldframe as that was my birthday present.
Only problem we were lugging the tools around and we really needed to have the shed available. So I emailed the council and said we understood the sensative issue of the passing of the lady and how the son hadn't emptied the shed and how we were willing to use some bolt cutters and cut the lock and we would store the equipment inside to keep it safe or we could take it over to him if it was a problem.
The lady at the council replied the next day with this reply-
"Following your correspondence below I have been in contact with the previous allotment holder.
The keys are mislaid and they have removed all tools they require so you can as you say get some bolt cutters
and enter the shed.
Hope you have a successful first season."
SoI borrowed the bolt cutters from work on monday night and tried to cut the padlock but failed. I managed to pull the doors open and found some tools and rubbish inside. I shut the door back on itself and moved the strawberry lanter infront for a bit more security. And decided I would get a screwdriver and need padlock clasp and screw it on, on friday.
Fast forward to friday, i walk down to the allotment to find all the water butts are taken, one of the ornaments gone, my cold frame gone, my herbs have been dug up, my strawberries have been taken as well as the bag, a 100 litre bag of compost gone, all my pots gone, everything was just stripped and taken!
I broke down in tears, we spent so much money on the allotment and he stole it all!
I called the council, but they were closed. I tried the local police station but they were closed, so I dialled 101, and gave them some information, and they are sending a police officer tomorrow, (which means i'm going to miss my friends hen do, as I have to be present as i made the complaint) but we are completely stuck.
If we can't get all the stuff back I don't know what we are going to do, we can't afford to replace all that before the season, we we're meant to buy a PVC greenhouse and wood for our beds at end of this month. But we can't do that now if we have to replace the water butts, my cold frame, the herbs, strawberries and pots. We need the cold frame first and the water butts, but I can't see us being able to afford all tha next month.
I really don't know what to do! He's completely destoryed our season and we haven't even started yet and were new. And whats worse is he's left use with a whole load of rubbish! So we have to clear all that.
We have proof
We have proof that we own all the plants, the cold frame, pots and compost. As we have photos with time and date stamps. But I just don't know what to do, we can't have an allotment without water source. Plus the 3 water butts were big 210 litre ones, and he emptied them, so flooded the allotment with them and we even think they were sharing water butts.
I'm absolutely devastated we worked so hard and it was looking exactly how we wanted it.
I just don't know what to do! Everything is gone!
*6th January sorry,
who is he..?
I'm so sorry to hear of what must be a really worrying and distressing experience. I think it sounds as if there's been a huge misunderstanding - someone's reminded him about clearing the allotment and he's been and cleared it, not realising that it's been allocated to you and that you've started work on it. He probably had no idea at all that it wasn't his mother's stuff (possibly he's not a gardener and wouldn't have realised these things were new/newly planted etc ).
I'm sure the Council and/or the police will arbitrate and sort things out for you.
Is there an allotment holders association? They may well be a good source of support for you.
And try not to worry too much (((big hugs))) - it's very early yet, there's lots you can do without too much expense - it doesn't all have to be done at once - you're right, replacing the water butts will be a priority but unless we get a very dry spring you've got a little while before you need a lot of water. People on here may have ideas about recycling various things to turn into butts - and a perfectly serviceable cold frame can be made out of old bricks, concrete blocks etc and old windows out of a skip - I know it won't look beautiful, but it will only be temporary until everything gets sorted out. And when the other allotmenteers find out what's happened my guess is that they'll all try to help - you may find someone who has some strawberry plants that are surplus to requirements - they may not be as good as the ones you bought, but it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.
I hope you've been able to get some sleep and are feeling a little better now - have a look on the Seedswap thread here - there may be people offering seeds and cuttings of things you need, and that will save you some expense (you can repay them in seeds/cuttings next year - I'm sure people will understand).
This has been a horrible setback, but we're all here with you - keep us posted and keep your chin up - it'll be worth it.
Dove, what a kind and logical reply! Perhaps the son can be contacted to find out what he did with the things he removed and they can get them back, fingers crossed!
Thank you for your advice, we don't have a lot of money so we were going to do alittle each month thats why dad brought me the cold frame for my birthday to start us off.
He knew what he was doing cause the council told him we started on the allotment and told him to only empty the shed. He's a local business owner so when the police turn up we can tell him that.
Was he seen taking the things? I'm just wondering if someone else came along after him and took advantage of the situation?
there is cctv cameras pointing down the tracks in the allotment and one is facing towards our allotment so hopefully the police will deal with it, waiting for the police now, if they can find us.
Wow, an allotment with cctv - I'm impressed! Good luck
I was so sorry to read your story. I really hope it's a misunderstanding about what was yours and that the police sort it out.
Even if you get your stuff returned and it turns out to be a huge mistake, it's still an very stressful start to what should be an exciting and glorious undertaking...you have my sympathies but take heart...it could always be worse.
Aquiring the land is a blessing -there's a 10yr waiting list in my area- and plants will grow without luxury, and yes you do require some essentials but other than that, I wouldn't pour money into your plot but rather your time and attention.
Security is the number one issue for allotments across the country, for those invited or otherwise.
Dear Hawk and rose, so sorry to hear about what has happened. Hopefully Dove is right and it is all a big mistake. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you
this is before we started on the allotment...
This is when we did some work on it...
You can see we put some bark down and built the cold frame and herb bed...
the cold frame and herb bed all done up,
shed with everything ready to go once we could enter the shed
soil turned over ready and compost and manure piled up ready to go.
this is it now!
big bag of compost gone, he's trodden all over our turned over soil, so will have to re-turn it.
water butts gone just rubbish left...
our strawberries and pots gone...
my birthday present the cold frame is gone...
The holes where are herbs once were! And the mint in the ot has gone...
How upsetting & horrible for you.
I agree with Dove above, talk to your allotment association you may find the other allotment holders will rally round & help with spare plants & things. The good thing is it's early in the season so plenty of time to start growing things again.
Hope the police recover some of your stuff .
I hope it was the son that took things by mistake - I've just got a horrid feeling that the stuff that was taken would be easily sold at a car boot sale An elderly chap I knew lost three rows of wallflower plants overnight, just as they were ready to be dug up and planted out - he'd grown them for himself and his family and neighbours - they were taken one Saturday night and the police reckoned they'd be sold the following morning at a car boot sale