Boys creating an allotment on a bomb site in London, 1942. (Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer)

Mary Lowther column: Why don’t our governments encourage self-sufficiency?

I remember walking through Mom’s tomato plants on a steamy summer day in her allotment garden.

By Mary Lowther

I remember walking through the forest of Mom’s tomato plants on a steamy summer day in her allotment garden. She let me pick and eat a ripe tomato and I was hooked. We lived in an apartment on a Canadian Air Force Base where the military thought everyone should have access to a plot of land on which to grow food.

My son-in-law hails from Vitebsk, Belarus, where their government thinks the same way and provides allotments called “Dachas” on the edge of town for apartment dwellers. They can even build accommodations on their Dachas for convenience in the summer.

Britain’s allotment gardens have been an institution since the Second World War when embargoes prevented imported foods from reaching them. The British government allotted land to the public, requiring them to grow their own food. When war ended, the populace had become so healthy, enjoying growing their own produce, that allotments became a way of life. In fact, because there is such an increased demand for allotments, some councils are cutting them in half to 1,333 square feet to accommodate more people.

The community garden I used to crop on Kent Road in Saanich was 1,000 square feet, a little smaller than half a British allotment. There are over 100 plots and there’s a wait list a mile long. Some folks are waiting two years for a plot.

With the rising cost of food and the prediction that, if Vancouver Island was cut off from the mainland, we’d have two and a half days’ worth of food before we ran out, one wonders why our governments haven’t made a concerted effort to provide space for people to grow food and why they don’t promulgate the idea? Why don’t they encourage self-sufficiency?

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

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