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Digging for Victory: Britains new pastime

Posted May 28 2009 12:19am

I was up early today, watching the BBC new and there was a piece about people growing their own vegetables in there gardens and allotments. I googled for the news and found an article in the Guardian.
It says that for the first time since the second world war vegetable seeds are outselling flower seeds. People are getting fed up of the extravagant prices that large supermarkets sell their organic vegetables, fruit, and herbs. These are specially marked Organic, grown without chemicals or pesticides. The price is double or three times the normal cost for non organic vegetables. I guess these have been sprayed, GM altered, or something similar to not be organic.
Several years ago Allotments (community gardens to the USA) were declining in popularity, and plots lay deserted, abandoned. Councils began to sell off the land previously set aside for the growing of fruit or veg.
Today there are waiting lists of years to gain an allotment. Some councils are reducing the plot size in half to make more available.
The major seed sellers note that vegetable seed and plant sales are up 31%, whereas Traditional flower seeds sales are down by a similar amount.
People want to grow their own veg, for organic reasons, for health reasons, and for a return to old fashioned values. Family's are growing the potatoes, onions, green beans, carrots etc, and pick them for dinner from the plot.
Keeping chickens is on the increase as a pastime, and now beekeeping ,once a declining pastime has become popular, for home made honey I guess. Even within the city of London, bees are buzzing around.
I have my three windowsills, until such time as I move again. The house MUST have a garden or some space suitable for growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
The poster is from the British National Archives. Whilst looking up Dig for Victory I found this article by a guy called Erin Koch about the British home front during the second world war. The flower beds and lawns were cleared for growing vegetables during the war when food rationing was in force, and when we were dependent on importing food from outside Britain.
How strange that time has turned 360 degrees from a country at war, to personal crusades against the buying power of the national supermarkets, and a desire to return to agrarian roots of our Island. How long have the British cultivated land and grown plants for personel use? The original cottage garden..
There are two main groups on allotments now, the typical older man, probably retired, and the thirty something growing exotic vegetables. That could be man or woman too. Families have also moved down to allotments too.
The satisfaction of eating something you have grown and nurtured is being fostered, a whole new generation of green fingered children will see their parents doing it.
Allotments will pass down slowly between the old timers to the younger generation, and potatoes, carrots, leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers, spring onions, etc will be grown to go from plot to dinner plate.
I think I will have a house before an allotment, as long as I have somewhere to grow things I will be happy. Until then I will dig and tidy other peoples gardens for pleasure :)
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