Archive for February, 2007

Allotments lose out to Sport

Monday, February 19th, 2007

I recently received this appeal in an email:

100 year-old Manor Garden Allotments lies within the Olympic Park site. Although the land was given in perptuity, these beautiful, productive vegetable gardens are shortly due to be concreted over to make way for a footpath for the 4 weeks of the 2012 Olympic Games. A campaign is under way to protect the allotments and to encourage a more imaginative Olympic development which includes this special place with its healthy, green lifestyles and vibrant multicultural community. Some of the allotment holders have worked the same plots for many years so it has become an essential part of their lives (for example Reg, 70, has worked his for 54 years having inherited it over from his father who took it on 75 years ago.)….”

The appeal was sent by you can find full details at their web site and they ask people to sign a web petition.

To my mind this appeal proves how important it is to support the formation of a nation wide organisation to promote gardening and horticulture in all its forms and to balance the power of the sports lobby. The thoughtlessness and ignorance displayed by the assumption that a 100 year old habitat can be destroyed to promote the convenience of an event that will last for 4 weeks and that this habitat can somehow be reinstated afterwards is just breathtaking. I am all in favour of supporting sport, in fact I am deeply grateful to the organisation that enables me to play tennis several times a week for a pittance at my local authority owned sports centre, but I feel that sport’s health and economic benefits are greatly overstated. Glasgow is currently bidding for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and I support that bid, I am sure that for the few weeks that they last they will benefit the city. But am I the only person who remembers the Glasgow Garden Festival? An entire spring, summer and autumn when Glasgow was full to bursting with happy free spending visitors and you could not get a hotel bed for love or money.

Far more people participate in horticultural activities both as active gardeners and as ‘spectator’ visitors to well known gardens than participate in sport (I think this is true even if you count watching football on the large screen at the local pub as participation). National policy should reflect this fact.

Jerusalem artichoke – vegetable of the month recipes

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

In the interests of helping reduce the carbon footprint of the world, and because this is in some sense my blog, I have decided to introduce a feature – vegetable of the month recipe(s). I hope that this will encourage and help people to enjoy locally grown seasonal vegetables. The rule for vegetable of the month is that usable specimens of the vegetable must be currently growing on my allotment (this is quite restrictive because I am not a very competent grower!). Just now at the start of February it is a choice between jerusalem artichokes and leeks. I was going to choose leeks because jerusalem artichokes were the subject of my very first practice posting, however I just received such a lovely recipe from a reader that I’ve changed my mind and leeks will have to wait till next month. So here goes with a couple of recipes for this somewhat controversial vegetable:

The first is from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, it makes a good starter. I sometimes substitute the supermarket trays of ‘mixed seafood salad’ which contain mussels, squid, scallops… for the prawns, but the pink of the prawns makes a very pretty dish:

Jerusalem Artichoke and Prawn Salad
1kg jerusalem artichokes, 125 gm cooked shelled prawns, plenty of chopped parsley and chives (or spring onions), 6 cooked prawns in their shells.
Cook the artichokes in their skins till soft but not squashy. Peel them when they are cool enough to handle and slice them or chop them into reasonable size cubes. Put them in a shallow dish and add the shelled prawns and the herbs. Pour on enough olive oil vinaigrette dressing to moisten them and toss very gently – try not to break the artichoke slices. Chill in the fridge. Arrange the prawns in their shells artistically on top before serving.

This recipe was sent to me by Gillian Hill, intended as a comment for the original posting, but it inspired me to start this feature. Gillian found the recipe in the BBC’s Good Food magazine.

Stir Fried Jerusalem Artichokes
You will probably need 2/4 artichokes per person depending on their size and lumpiness. Wash and peel them carefully (home grown artichokes can hide a lot of mud!). Slice the peeled artichokes and lightly fry in oil with walnut halves. Add a sprinkling of thyme and rosemary. They cook quickly and can become soggy if overcooked.

Gillian also comments that they go well in a tray of roasted vegetables.

Scottish Executive denies responsibility for its own laws

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

On December the 14th Tom McCabe Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform gave an answer to a written question tabled by Susan Deacon (Labour MSP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh).

Ms Deacon’s question was “To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to support gardening and horticultural activities, including the provision of allotments, in towns and cities ”

Mr McCabe’s reply “The Executive has no direct role in relation to supporting gardening and horticultural activities. We are however taking forward a number of initiatives in areas such as sustainable development, biodiversity, health and physical activity, community involvement and planning for greenspace and open spaces which may involve and support these activities.”

In fact there are four Scottish laws in the statute book specifically relating to allotments (click here to see our resume of the legal situation). Surely the executive ought to have a direct role in the enforcement of its own laws, even if they were passed before devolution.

In addition private horticulture and gardening has great potential to reduce a family’s ‘carbon footprint’ and therefore their contribution to global warming by reducing the quantity of air freighted fruit and vegetables they need to eat. Equally commercial horticulture should be a valuable provider of jobs and economic activity in Scotland. It is a sad thought that the executive has no direct role in either of these desirable activities.

Any thoughts from you out there?  Particularly in view of the fact that these people are facing an election in just over 4 months time?