Over the past few days, I’ve been re-watching Wartime Farm. I first saw the series when it was broadcast in 2012 in my pre-gardening days. I remember sitting knitting, watching while the weather was wild outside and thinking: ‘Wow! So that’s what it was like.’ I was fascinated. And it sowed another seed towards my becoming a gardener.
Looking at it again, now as a gardener, it still fascinated me as I noticed new bits of information. But what really stands out for me now is the contrast between then and now. Through the Second World War, Britain had to grow her own food. Imports were strictly limited as ships were requisitioned and convoys lost at sea. Today? Today it’s cheaper for me to buy a pint of imported UHT milk than to buy it from a local farmer. And, not surprisingly, our farmers are going out of business.
I don’t just think this is wrong, I think it’s tragic. I don’t claim to understand how we’ve come to this. No doubt decisions have been made for good reasons and for bad down through the intervening decades. The arguments don’t matter so much to me. What does matter is the big question: What do I do now?
So I’ve made a decision … I’m going to start buying British. No, I’m not going to stop buying bananas. And, yes, Gouda cheese should come from Holland. But milk, eggs and ham? The UK is perfectly capable of producing her own and that is what I will buy.
I started during the week when I did a grocery shop and realised I can’t afford British ham in ASDA because it’s only available in the premium ‘Extra Special’ range. I stood and fumed at the shelves before choosing British cheddar for my lunches instead. So, yes, I’m going to have to make changes and, yes, I’m willing to do so.