15.11.22 Annual Competitions

The following article was written by Felicity Nock of Finchley Horticultural Society covering the presentation made by Anita Gracie of Lawrence Street Allotments. The group of
Competition judges will put their heads together to rethink the judging criteria, taking on board the essence of Anita’s presentation.

The evening began with shared food and a chance to catch up before Kirstie and Isobel opened the meeting with an introduction to Anita Gracie. Anita stands with one foot in Barnet (Lawrence Street) where she is a lead and moderating judge for the BAF Awards and one in Islington where she works with https://www.octopuscommunities.org.uk/ and judges for Islington in Bloom.

Behind her careful comparison of the two boroughs in terms of green spaces (Barnet boasts more than four times space per person than Islington) lay a firm recommendation; Barnet must learn from her sister borough where green space is at a premium. In Islington there are many people, especially those in social housing, who have no access to personal green space. Here Octopus Community provides plots and guides for residents to join in gardening ventures in public and community gardens. The watchwords for the organisation are: engage, motivate, inspire, equip and support. They are working closely with https://inspiringsustainableislington.org/ an initiative that promotes the benefits of sustainability, clean air, nurture and nature for residents.

In Barnet, Anita coaxed, just because we have space do we use it responsibly? Do we squander an opportunity? If we think about this we should really value our 44 allotments for the benefit of the wider community as well as ourselves as individuals. To highlight and promote the connection between space and wellbeing for Barnet residents, Anita strongly suggests that the Competition rules are reviewed. Instead of focusing on fine gardening, neat edges and weed-free plots shouldn’t we be encouraging ‘forest gardening’ and highlighting community activities such plant sharing, workshops to teach the joy of gardening, equal access and all avenues to greater sustainability?

This was a heart-felt plea that the BAF Competition should not just be about handing out silverware but that the awards should promote networks and new ways of thinking about our green spaces to benefit our neighbours, our community and ourselves in equal measure.

The lists of Competition winners can be found on the BAF website (go to Events page and click on Honours Board/Annual Competitions). You can also find a selection of photos showing Anita presenting the trophies to the winning societies and plot holders (go to Events page scroll to Events Archive and click on Plot and Site Competition 2022 Presentation).

The extreme weather conditions this summer put some societies off entering; BAF hopes that more entries will come in next year, especially with changed judging criteria.

The presentation of the trophies will take place at the end of summer next year (2023), probably on a weekend afternoon, so that members aren’t faced with a cold, dark night to venture out in!

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