[Some very encouraging developments! And about time…]

In the days leading up to the restrictions (and ever since), there has been a sheer frenzy of interest in fruit and vegetable growing as people seek to turn over their back gardens, patios, windowsills (and indeed any available space) to home food production.

The seed companies have been so inundated that there have been many reports of websites freezing, as they struggle to cope with the sheer demand for orders.

The panic buying has moved from spaghetti and tinned tomatoes into seed and compost it would seem…

Home grown food! (Image: T. Larkum)

Home grown food! (Image: T. Larkum)

As someone who has been diligently writing away, trying to encourage organic home fruit and vegetable growing for years, even I have been taken back by the tsunami-level wave of interest we’ve seen. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s a seed of hope that in such challenging times, so many are seeking down-to-earth, nourishing respite where they can. The move into growing your own food is a hugely positive step on a multitude of levels right now and I believe, offers the potential for a more sustainable food system and society post-pandemic.

I know I’m speaking to the converted here but concerns around food security have long been valid. As renowned food policy expert, Tim Lang writes in his book, Feeding Britain, released pre-coronavirus: ‘The UK is, de facto, facing a wartime scale of food challenge.’ He details a delicate, massively ‘just-in-time’, supply chain which leaves us open to the will of international markets and which is unsustainable in every sense. As the pandemic continues to unfold in real time, the threats become enhanced manifold.

The new ‘Dig for Victory’?

As we are urged to hunker down and develop a war-like spirit to see us through the current heavily restricted circumstances, it’s probably no coincidence that there seems to be a ‘Dig for Victory’ movement unfolding. Certainly, food is set to play an ever-important role over the weeks and months ahead as we try to fill our lockdown time as productively as possible. As highlighted by commentators in Italy (who are a few weeks ahead of us in their restrictions), mealtimes take on a whole new level of significance when you are forced to stay at home. Gardening and picking produce with which to cook, are set to do the same.

As we are bombarded, every day now, with death counts and the latest lockdown news, growing some of your own food is also a way of taking back some control when everything else feels so incredibly fluid and out of balance. The undoubtedly necessary but also all-consuming pandemic restrictions have cut so deeply into our existence, slicing apart the everyday freedoms we previously took for granted – going out to work, visiting friends and shops, a walk to a busy crowded market or grocery store. With these all displaced and boxed away into isolation, it’s time to take a long hard look at what was previously considered normal and ground ourselves as best we can for whatever lies ahead. No wonder growing produce offers such appeal. It strips us back to the basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (food and shelter) and offers nurturing and purpose therein.

Read more: Resilience