During several volunteering days dating back to about 2015, an overgrown area halfway along the eastern edge of the Burnside site began to be cleared to make way for a new communal space. The area had become very overgrown and had, for many years, been a dumping ground for a variety of waste and scrap, including a large old rusting farm trailer, tractor tyres and rubble, much of which was only discovered as the area was cut back. The ground was cleared and levelled, which resulted in a mound of soil towards the north east corner. In the centre, a gravelled, concrete edged circle was created for the Burn Bin. Eventually a layer of compost was applied, and turf was laid, resulting in a space resembling Teletubbyland, exactly as envisaged. With the addition of some picnic tables and a bench, the space became the site’s picnic area. Over time a corrugated steel covered wood store and a small shed for tables and chairs have been added. The first Burn Bin was a great success, proving the concept of a hot, fast burning, communal fire. It is additionally fuelled by scrap timber from around the site to dispose of any tenant’s non compostable waste. All of this with no nuisance to other tenants or our site neighbours, which had been an issue in the past. The Burn Bin consists of a large, old, round, commercial, galvanized dustbin, with triangles cut into the bottom edge to allow air into the fire. This first Burn Bin had a little too much metal cut away, so after a few burn sessions, due to the loss of the galvanising from the heat, it started to rust and disintegrate. Thoughts of using the Burn Bin heat to cook some food, and the need for a replacement, led to the creation of Burn Bin No. 2, with its integral oven. Since 2017 many Burn Bin sessions have taken place with all sorts of food cooked in that oven. Whole chickens, baked potatoes, fish, sausages, baguettes, camembert, baked beans, Yorkshire puddings and more. The addition of engineering bricks in the bottom of the oven allowed for the hugely successful cooking pf pizzas. However, on too many occasions the weather had deteriorated during the day resulting in eating huddled, under tarpaulins, or having to decamp to the Store. Also, making hot drinks during the burn session, and after, was never easy, and the space around the Burn Bin has proved to be too small.
A larger green space. A building of some kind, to contain a stove and sink with running mains water. Plus a covered hard area, both for shade in the summer and for those drizzly afternoons. Thus, a Tearoom, to include all of the above, plus solar charged batteries to power lighting, and maybe a fridge and an extractor fan. At the end of 2019 the half plot opposite the picnic area, which had regularly been part “borrowed” for these events, was acquired and re-designated as communal space.
2020 has of course been a very difficult year. However, the allotment has been a great place to go, but with a very limited number of Burn Bin sessions and certainly no communal food, and no volunteering days, which of course are ostensibly jolly communal get togethers. The tearoom is really the vision of Andy, the site manager, with most of the work now being carried out by him, hence “Andy’s Tearoom”. The groundwork has progressed well as follows: