Growing Trials Focus on Protein and Carbohydrate
New Trials in Mid Wales Need YOU!
The idea for these trials came out of thinking about our future food security and how we are going to meet this challenge. At present, most of the vegetables and fruit we consume in this area are imported, either from other parts of Britain or from abroad. The main reason for this state of affairs is mostly to do with economics; it is cheaper and easier to import our food. Given ongoing climate change and the expected rise in fuel costs, this situation is not sustainable.
How then are we going to feed ourselves in the future? Leaving
aside the production of meat and dairy the question for me is can we produce enough locally grown vegetables and fruit to meet the needs for a year round supply?
The answer to this question, I think, involves a multi faceted approach. Over the last 50 to 60 years food production and supply has gradually become the province of “someone else”. Just about everyone gets their food from a supermarket and we have consequently lost connection with where our food comes from and how to produce it ourselves. Recently though things have begun to change. There is now much renewed interest in growing our own fruit and vegetables as people begin to realise that we can not rely in the future on a food supply driven purely by the current economic model. Local farm production, individuals, families, community groups and co-operatives could all be a part of the answer to our future food supply.
I call this, “The Take Back Food Campaign”. Food is one of our most basic requirements and its production should not all be in the hands of multi national companies. By taking responsibility for at lest some of our own food production we would be taking a step forward and a step towards achieving future food security.
If we are going to address the challenge of future food security and grow more of our own fruit and vegetables in this area we need to be thinking about producing a reliable year round supply. At present varieties available for summer harvest are reasonably plentiful, but those for winter use are limited. This is particularly the case for high protein and high carbohydrate foods. The main aim of these proposed trials is to address that issue.
To add variety to a local diet through the production of high protein and high carbohydrate vegetables, especially pulses, grains and tubers that are not normally grown in this area or are not part of our traditions. Of particular interest are varieties that could be stored or dried for winter use. Varieties suitable for these trials would be either hardy or nearly hardy and adaptable to our local climate.
Involve local people in the above trials to give balance to the results obtained and to provide “ownership” of the process of production. People without a suitable growing area or with little time to put into the trials can still be involved. Window boxes, tubs and pots could be used for small scale trials of some varieties. Tea plants as an example, could be trialled, grown in pots. People with a heated conservatory might like to try growing a cashew tree or varieties of fruit tree in this space.
Varieties available for trialling could be supplied as seed and as plants, depending on the preferences of the growers. Plants would be started off from seed in a heated propagator (where appropriate) and grown on under cover to a suitable size and then distributed to growers. Growers would be expected to keep a record of plants trialled and yields obtained. At the end of the year the results of the trials will be correlated into a report which can then be circulated to all interested parties. It is hoped that larger scale trials of suitable varieties would follow in subsequent years, perhaps involving local farms.
An initial investment of £300 to cover the cost of seed, compost and seed trays is required to implement these trials.
The participation of members of the local community in helping with these trials is very much a part of this project. The more growers involved in the project, the more ownership is shared by the community and the more valid the results obtained.
If anyone is interested in having a go at growing some unusual plants and would like to be part of these trials, please contact me. All are welcome as a large growing area is not required. A community dinner is also planned for the end of the season to highlight the crops we have grown.
Contributions towards the cost of the seed, compost etc. would be much appreciated.
David Burridge, January 2010
Tel: 01597 860186
(also see David's Forum post about shared Soil Association approved compost purchase)