Why we forgot how to grow food

As a food shortage looms, people are digging for Britain — and their dinner table. John-Paul Flintoff gets back to our roots

Not long before Christmas, a man walked into the care home next door to his house and asked the manager if it would be possible for a group of neighbours to grow food in the vast gardens. The manager said he would be delighted. In the days that followed, the man casually asked various neighbours whether they would like to get involved. They all said yes. So he popped over to the care home with them, and each remarked how large the garden was, and what a lot of food could be grown there.

As well as beds for vegetables, there could be fruit trees trained to grow up the south-facing walls, a bed of herbs for the kitchens, and flowers to take inside. The group could perhaps even keep chickens, once the fruit and veg were up and running.

The man went home after each trip feeling tremendously pleased with himself. I know this, because the man was me. Now, it’s not as if I did anything special: I didn’t lift a spade. Many people have done considerably more, as part of a grass-roots movement spreading rapidly across the nation, to grow our own food. And fast. Because for the first time in decades, Britain faces the real prospect of severe food shortages.

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