3 Feb 2009

Book great play for your village hall and 'Dig for Victory'?

Here's a date for the diary in the Autumn - did you miss Stroud Theatre Company's ‘When The Lights Went Out!’ when it played locally? Well after it’s sell out seven week tour last year, this play written by South West playwright, Mike Akers, is to tour again in the Autumn 2009 - 70 years after the declaration of war in September, 1939.

Photos and posters from www.stroudtheatrecompany.co.uk

On the theatre company's website there is a poster from the 'Dig for Victory' campaign that was so much a part of the Home Front - this idea of digging for victory has also been increasingly used as an example of what we need to be adopting now to prepare for Peak Oil and climate change. However there is clearly a difference between then and now...read on more below after more about the play...

So to the play - well Margaret Brooks is a happy-go-lucky eighteen year old when war is declared. Living with her family on their small farm, she knows precious little of the world, apart from what she sees in the movies. Her life is turned upside down with love, loss and liberty and like many women she finds herself doing things she never dreamed she’d be doing.

Folk who went to see it said it was brilliant - Chris Garner, the artistic director of the Company, who lives in Ruscombe says you can book the play for your village hall on 07950833190. Initial plans are that the play will open at Ruscombe village hall on the 8th/9th or 10th October, and will finish the tour at the Space on 27th/28th Nov.

So back to 'Dig for Victory' - yes gardening has a substantial role to play but the war mentality is unhelpful - 70 years ago the Germans were coming and the campaign was about digging up your gardens, roundabouts and all to beat the Germans and then get back to normal - well we can't have and don't want business-as-usual - we need to start creating a new lifestyle. Furthermore things are very different now to 7o years ago - in those days we had farmers, we grew lots of stuff - yet now 70% of our wheat goes to feed cattle and we have dug up all our orchards - it is a scandal that Tescos and Sainsbury's stock New Zealand apples in September...

The the potential for growing more food is vast - 82% of the nations households have access to at least a part of a garden or green space.

Rosie Boycott, former editor of The Independent comments: "The very act of growing (food) starts to breed within you a kind of resilience, and a sense of your own way of surviving, instead of being in total dependence on the fact that money will always come out of the hole in the wall and that there will always be food in Tescos, because I think the day will come when things will not be as clear as that."

There are some very promising signs - fruit and vegetable seed sellers are reporting record sales, with many saying that they cannot keep up with a sudden rise in demand. The National Trust are launching a prject to encourage more growing of food - see my post earlier this week re allotments here. In March the Royal Horticultural Society will unveil the latest stage in its "Grow Your Own" campaign, this time turning its attention to fruit-growing. The campaign, which aims to show people that they don't need acres of space to begin growing, and that gardening can reduce the amount of money spent on food, claims to have inspired half a million people to start cultivating fruits and vegetables.

Demand for allotments continues to grow - there are 330,000 allotments in the UK, and 100,000 people on waiting lists in the hope of securing one. The true number of people seeking allotments is thought to be much higher as some councils have closed their lists - and some like locally don't bother to apply as they know there are none available.

Karen Kelly, of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners is quoted in The Independent saying: "There has been a phenomenal rise in the amount of people wanting allotments. There aren't enough because lots of the land was taken away in recent years, but because local authorities have a statutory duty to provide allotments they have to look for new land. It is growing in popularity because people care about food, their carbon footprint and the economic situation – allotments address all of these issues."

Local authorities are obliged to provide 15 allotments per 1,000 households. As noted before I am on a working party to look at possible sites locally - if you are interested in an allotment please write or email the Parish Council clerk.

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