Jo Phillips writes:
This weekend I bought 20 lettuce seedlings for a £1 from a country market. Should even a few of these grow into healthy sized lollo rosso, I reckon I will have saved a few pounds on the cost of equivalent produce at the supermarket, even taking into account the cost of compost and water. But perhaps more interesting than the potential to save money on food at a time when food costs are escalating and consumers are feeling the pinch, is the intrinsic value of homegrown produce to the grower. As Monty Don pointed out recently in his session at Hay, a person who grows food from seed wouldn’t even consider wasting it.
In his role as the new President of the Soil Association Don has been smart to encourage all growers, great and small, to consider themselves as part of a sustainable food movement. He clearly appreciates that those who have narrowed the gap between soil to plate to its minimum could, if connected to each other, be a powerful network for change. Linking small steps to big effects and harnessing the power of the collective may be a powerful way to address concerns about food security and food footprints and encourage behaviour change. And with sales of vegetable seeds overtaking those of flowers this year, the movement shows signs of burgeoning.
The greatest challenge perhaps will be in cities –people living within view of farms at least have a regular reminder of the provenance of food, but in urban spaces the mental gap is greater, and the knowledge less intuitive. But with the return of Victory Gardens in London and San Francisco, and vertical farms on the horizon, we are moving closer to the Soil Association’s vision of “a national policy of self-sufficiency in staple foods.”