Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: Allotted Veg

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Allotted Veg

I've just started reading 'Allotted Time'- the tale of two amateurs setting out to grow things on their first ever allottment. This idea of grow-your-own and the accompanying 'buy local' seems to have really taken off over the last few years. I've heard tales of allottment waiting lists getting longer by the day and I remember seeing some temporary allottments set up in one of the London parks to show people how it was done (there was talk of making it permenant, but I don't think that ever happened). With the current economic climate it makes sense for anyone with a decent-sized garden to grow their own produce. We have a medium-sized garden containing 2 small veg plots and from that we can manage to get about half our weekly veg and all at peak growing times (we have even been known to have to freeze some of it). Ontop of vegetable growing, it seems to be becomingv popular to keep chickens, 'good life' style. One of my friends gets an egg a day from their brood and centres for hen food and buying actual hens seem to be springing up all over the garden centres.
There's now a decent choice of veg boxes where local vegetables (and sometimes fruit, eggs and even meat) can be delivered to your door. We have one of these and have worked out that good quality organic fruit and vegetables come to us now each week at the same price as it would cost us to buy normal stuff from the local supermarket. There are also a range of farm shops near to us which, whilst priced slightly more expensively, offer well-reared meat and home-made cakes and pies, as well as locally grown vegetables. As if this was not enough, there are also farmers' markets nearly every week in our county and once a month in our own town providing an easy was to get hold of lots of local food. We're even lucky enough to be able to order local-reared lamb at supermarket prices, so long as we're willing to buy half a lamb at a time in frozen state.

So, what's the point of all this?
Well, firstly, growing in your own garden or allottment means you know exactly where your food is coming from. There are no surprise pesticides, unusual foreign bugs, or dangerous growing methods lurking ready to jump out at you. And if you buy local, whilst some of these shocks are still possible, thery're a lot less likely because you're able to trace to the source easily and often even see where the stuff is grown. Plus, you can be pretty sure that no-body is chopping down tropical rainforest or destroying other valuable resources to turn wilderness into farming land.
Secondly, buying local or growing your own reduces food miles and thereby helps to save the environment. I find it shocking how far some food travels to reach our plates, often needlessly since it can be grown in the UK just as well. All these journeys use up limited fossil fuels as well as polluting our world. Yes, your eating may be linked more to the seasons but isn't it worth it if it helps preserve the planet for future generations. I do reaslie that not everyone believes in climate change, but surely its not such a big change to our lifestyles that its not better to hedge our bets just in case.
Thirdly, buying local helps to support the local economy. I don't know about you, but I'd rather my money was going to a farmer down the road struggling to make a living than to some big multi-national supermarket chain. And by giving that farmer money he'll be able to buy more stuff himself, thereby helping other local businesses whose employees now have jobs and money to spend, and so on.....

My plea, therefore, is for you to at least consider taking a leaf out of 'Allotted Time' and considering either growing things yourself or, if you're like me and not green-fingered at all (my Dad does the gardening around here), buying local instead.
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