For some time now I have been trying to think of an alternative to foodbanks, the Third World solution to this country’s austerity nightmare.
It seemed an impossible task, but just as I was about to give up, I remembered my grandfather’s answer to the threat of starvation during and just after the Second World War.
Gardening! That was it! He rented part of a big old house in Caythorpe and part of the rent paid for the sole use of a walled garden up a path at the back of the property. There he grew all the fruit and vegetables we needed to eat for most of the year round: potatoes, carrots, swedes and the like; all kinds of greens, currants, gooseberries, strawberries, you name them and he produced them.
There were added bonuses such as walnuts, damsons, blackberries and chestnuts from trees and hedges surrounding what amounted to an allotment, plus apples and pears, etc, he could pick from a nearby orchard and eggs he shared with the owners of the house, who lived next door, as long as he was willing and able to gather them from their chickens.
Although he didn’t have a fridge in those days, Granny knew all the country tricks housewives used to preserve almost everything in those days, even leaving apples to dry in the attic until Christmas each year.
There were plenty of council houses with good-sized gardens then, so many families used them to similar advantage, while others had their own allotments.
All right! So Maggie Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ policies scotched a lot of that, but maybe local authorities in this benighted age, could stop selling off so much workable ground for greedy developers to sit on and prosper at our expense, and convert it into useful allotments for those willing to help themselves.