Homegrown fruit and veg back on menu as Britons turn to allotments to save money in struggling economyShare of homegrown produce rose from 2.9% to 5% between 2008 and 2011Economic downturn and celebrity chefs' campaigns credited for the rise
23:33 GMT, 30 December 2012
Families are increasingly turning to homegrown produce as household budgets are squeezed by Britain's trouble economy and soaring fruit prices.
The share of all fruit and vegetables consumed in the UK which were grown in allotments or gardens went up from 2.9 per cent to 5 per cent between 2008 and 2011, official statistics show, an increase of nearly 70 per cent.
Eggs from home-reared chickens rose from 3.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent.
Homegrown: The share of all fruit and vegetables grown in allotments or gardens rose from 2.9 per cent to 5 per cent between 2008 and 2011
Beans are the most popular homegrown item – one in three eaten in Britain were self-grown.
Ten per cent of strawberries and raspberries were grown at home, along with 9 per cent of apples, 7 per cent of potatoes and 6 per cent of tomatoes.
On average, 3.5oz of home-grown fruit and vegetables was eaten per person every week in the UK in 2011, a rise of more than a third on the previous year.
The economic downturn, combined with
the rising cost of food bills and campaigns by celebrity chefs,
including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, is being
credited for the rise in the number of Britons people turning their hand
Around 150,000 people are on waiting lists for council allotments, with waiting times in parts of London as long as 40 years.
Eggs from home-reared chickens rose from 3.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent
Georgie Willock, a spokesman for the National Allotment Society, said: ‘Gardening always has a popularity boost during times of recession. Allotments fell out of favour in the 1980s and 1990s during the yuppie era but, now that we are in a gloomy time again, people have gone back to them.’
The society say they have seen a significant rise in the number of women wanting to take on their own plots, growing from 35 per cent in 1993 to 46 per cent in 2012.
Donna Baines, 46, was the only woman on a 45-plot allotment site in Blidworth, Nottinghamshire, when she started growing fruit and vegetables seven years ago.
Now around 70 per cent of the plots have ‘female involvement,’ she says.
‘They thought if a woman had an allotment … she wouldn’t be able to manage it and that it would end up in disrepair,’ Mrs Baines, a food development manager for Nottinghamshire county council, said.
She has since become the society’s
first female committee member in its 70-year history, helped to convert a
disused pig shed into a meeting room and helps to organise a packed
social calendar for her fellow plot-holders.
Professionals are also among a rising
tide of younger gardeners growing their own food Mark Champion, 33, took
charge of an allotment in Norwich after waiting two years for his plot.
He said it supplies up to 80 per cent of the fruit and vegetables that he and his girlfriend eat during the spring and summer.
‘No one is ‘good lifed’ to the point of being self-sufficient but supplementing your diet with something which you have [grown] yourself is the aim,’ he said.
Mary Creagh, Labour’s environment secretary, said that while the ‘dig for victory’ spirit was welcome, ‘it shows the very real pressures on families struggling to make ends meet.’