Written By Ed Hodges
When my wife suggested we should start growing vegetables in our garden, it’s fair to say that I was a bit of a sceptic. I’d never even managed to keep a houseplant alive for more than a week let alone grow anything using seeds. We already have two children and two cats dependent on us for their survival, without worrying about cultivating our own food. Besides, in my mind, we were too young to spend our Saturdays digging in the garden.
How wrong I was! With a bit of persuasion, I agreed to give it a go. The first tasks of removing weeds and clearing the ground provided the exercise and motivation I sorely needed during the second lockdown. Quite soon we were sowing seeds into the ground and standing back to admire our new patch of mud while waiting for it to sprout some new life.
We’re not alone in this new endeavour. In the last 12 months, seed and compost sales have increased 250%. Inspired by national shortages of fruit and vegetables and perhaps by Jeremy Clarkson’s recent foray into farming, more Brits than ever are starting to grow their own food at home.
Thanks to my wife’s patience we are now literally enjoying the fruit of her labour. Every day she presents us with strawberries, broccoli, sweetcorn and peas produced less than 5 metres from our kitchen table. But the benefits aren’t only edible. They’re also physical, mental and emotional. Growing our own food reconnects us with the natural world around us and reminds us how much we depend upon it. Despite my early cynicism, our little patch of soil has brought me back to earth. It’s helped me stay active and made me appreciate the power that food has to inspire and humble us. It sounds strange but looking back, I think I’m the one who’s grown.
If you’re looking for inspiration, a local project close to my heart is St Sidwell’s Community Centre in Exeter whose gardens have twice won a Britain in Bloom SW Outstanding Award. www.stsidwells.org.uk/garden