Life on Pig Row: Growing for ourselves

p22 Oldhams2013High on the Saddleworth hills, the Oldham family have created an inspiring kitchen garden which provides a wealth of rich flavours for the kitchen and larder. This column, written by Andrew and Carol, follows their journey throughout the year

For more information, visit their website www.lifeonpigrow.co.uk

YOU CAN pin point when we started to distance ourselves from food production.

In 1752 Britain adopted a new calendar. This meant March was no longer the start of the year. March heralds the start of the growing year; it is the top of a fast helter skelter towards a final harvest in September. March is renewal and means we survived winter.

Those budding hedgerows and nodding lent lilies in 1752 meant as much to our ancestors as it they do to us today. The Gregorian calendar was the move towards uniformity, efficiency and mechanisation.

We lost 11 days in 1752 from our seasons and by 1760 the industrial need for workers meant we lost families from the land. In 1773 the remaining rural way of life was eroded with the Enclosure Act. It tore families apart, starved others and condemned many to the workhouse and asylum. We were denied the land and we cannot live without it.

As a modern nation we have become urban citizens and even those fortunate to live in rural locations see only the stunning view but never the soil.

This cultural shift has shown how detached we are and has lead to terrible disasters in our food production from CJD in the 1980s to the horse meat scare in 2013.

There are people fighting back to reclaim the land, to allow many to get their hands in the soil. Soil boosts our immune system, aids with mental health and feeds us all.

The Kindling Trust, Hulme Community Garden Centre and Incredible Edible are the vanguard of a movement committed to saving our soil through co-operative power; people who know that soil in the UK is under serious threat of erosion. Soil fertility is being bolstered by chemicals to the point where it is one step away from collapse.

From small ideas come powerful movements. The Greenfield Growers Community Gardens is Saddleworth’s first step into co-operative growing, drawing in people from across Saddleworth and Mossley to transform donated land at Tanners Mill into an oasis.

They are doing it all with volunteers, no budget and in their spare time; they are doing it not just for themselves but for the community that is growing around them.

They are our vanguard, our wake up call to get involved, so do it today and email Cally-statham@live.co.uk

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