UK: Nineties gardeners beat wartime yields reportedly due to fears of chemicals and GM foods : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

ISSUE 1647 Sunday 28 November 1999

Nineties gardeners beat wartime yields By Jo Knowsley Countryside Correspondent

FEARS of chemicals and genetically modified crops have created the biggest boom in home-grown vegetables since the Second World War.

Membership of the National Vegetable Society has increased more than 18 per cent in the past 12 months. Suttons Seeds, one of the country's largest flower and vegetable seed companies, has reported a 38 per cent rise in sales of vegetable seeds over the past nine months. Surveys by the company also show that vegetable growers are getting younger.

Tom Sharples of Sutton Seeds said: "In the past, a typical customer would be 50 plus. But now we are getting younger people, particularly women who want to know more about what they feed their children."

The renewed interest in vegetable patches is reminiscent of the wartime Dig for Victory campaign, which urged people to grow whatever they could, wherever they could, to combat food shortages. By the end of the war back gardens and allotments in British towns and villages were producing 1.3 million tons of fruit and vegetables a year. Gardening groups believe that this figure is now being exceeded.

Len Cox, of the society, said: "Home-grown fruit and vegetables are not monitored in the same way as they were at the end of the war. But if you look at the growth in vegetable seed sales, the growth in demand for allotments and increase in interest in home-growing it is obvious that the war-time figure will be superseded now."

The arrival of supermarkets and convenience food in the Fifties saw the trend taper off but, modern consumers have entirely different reasons for growing their own food.

Mr Cox said: "Genetically modified crops are an issue for some people, but what seems to concern them most are food health scares and what chemicals and pesticides have been used on commercially grown vegetables. More people want to know what has been used on their food. And growing your own vegetables is one of the few ways you can do this."

At the Rectory Road allotments in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, there is a year-long waiting list for one of the 47 plots. Judith Currie, an illustrator who lives nearby, got her plot earlier this year, initially to get some outdoor exercise and grow flowers. But she has also planted leeks, onions, winter cabbage, globe artichokes and potatoes and plans to grow more vegetables.

She said: "They taste wonderful. Other people say the same. Now one of my friends has also started growing vegetables in her back garden, and says she would like an allotment."

[An allotment is a plot of gardening land provided by a local Council at an affordable rent, with reduced rates for seniors and disabled.]

-- Old Git (, November 28, 1999


I lived in Iceland in the early 1970s. It was common for people who lived close together in village housing to have a plot of land outside the village to grow their vegetables. Every town also had greenhouses (and public swimming pools) kept warm with volcanic thermal energy. I still rmember the taste of mutton hot dogs with strawberry ketchup!

-- anon (anon@anon.calm), November 28, 1999.

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