Results of membership survey

Ashley Vale Allotment Association Members Survey: Winter 2014 – 2015

AVAA recently completed a survey of members to help us plan the future of the association. 30 of you answered the questionnaire, which provided interesting and useful results. These are shown below under each of the question headings in the survey.

How long have you been a member of AVAA and a plot holder at Ashley Vale?

The answers to this question showed that the survey was completed mainly by plot holders of longer tenure, with over a third having their plot for more than two years and over two fifths for more than five years. There were answers from two new plot holders however and four from people with plots between one and two years. So a reasonable spread, and some advantage to be gained from answers from people that are fairly familiar with the site.

What kind of plot do you have at Ashley Vale?

A decent spread here again with most responses coming from holders of large plots. There was a significant number from holders of more than one plot as well.

On average, how often do you visit your plot(s)?

Also a good spread of responders with most replies from people who assess their attendance at around twice a week. Significant numbers of very keen people though and a few who say they come once a month! There were a number of comments from members explaining that they attended much more frequently in spring and summer (understandably).

AVAA members have lots of reasons for maintaining a plot. Please rank the reasons below in order of priority for YOU.

This question asked people to rank their priorities and 93% of responses ranked ‘growing food’ highest. It seems therefore that most people are using their plots broadly as the association and the council intends them to be used. All the other choices got a smattering of ticks.

Would you like to see an ongoing association of plot holders at Ashley Vale Allotments?

The positive response to this was overwhelming. 93% of responses (all except 2) said ‘yes’. There was one ‘no’ and one comment under ‘other’, which was…

‘Definatley (sic) keep to agreement to review farms involvement and control in two year time period as agreed’.

Another member e-mailed separately and said that although she was having trouble logging on to the survey, she wanted to record her view that “…I agree about keeping an association alive and kicking, and one day I might even find the time to be more active. “

This seems to be an overwhelming endorsement for the association continuing in some form, as mentioned in the last newsletter.

Do you think the Association should organise social events? If so, which ones?

Once again a full response to this and support for all ideas suggested with Seed Swaps coming top. A big endorsement for a social side to the site community.

Which of these activities would you like to see the Association pursue?

The web site, the newsletter, bulk buying and supporting new plot holders all receive over 75% support here. Other proposed activities that did well were nature conservation activities and central propagation facilities.

The association and the Farm management will report on ideas for further activities at the AGM.

In order to continue, AVAA will need to generate some income to cover core costs, even though these are lower now that we no longer manage our site. Which of the following means of generating income would you support?

The proposal for a ‘small annual subscription’ enjoyed 71% support here. I think this is a sufficient endorsement of the subscription principle to retain it. It does beg the question about how we would collect it, of course, but £3 per year from 200+ plots could easily solve our financial worries.

Other proposals such as ‘selling goods and services at a small profit’ (i.e. a shop), Organising specific fund-raising events, and selling members surpluses (i.e. to the Farm Cafe) all got reasonable levels of support. Charging for AVAA events only got 25% support however, so is probably not the way forward.

Age and Gender

Roughly equal responses for men and women. There was a good spread of ages with the highest number of responders (a third) in the 50 – 60 age group.

Conclusions

A well-distributed sample of about 15% of the Association’s current membership, so a fair basis for working assumptions and for decision making for the medium term. The two most important messages seem to be that almost everyone wants some form of association to continue and most people are happy to pay a small subscription. This seems to indicate a positive way forward.

The committee will discuss these results at our next meeting and assuming it agrees to keep the Industrial and Provident Society framework for the time being, we will ask Hilary Sudbury (from Co-ops UK) to review the current rules and propose a modernised and simplified version, which would bring the constitution into line with the current state of affairs and ambitions. Concurrently, we will the Farm if it would be happy to collect AVAA subs along with plot rents.

Once we have answers to these, we will prepare a set of proposals in a resolution for the AGM.

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