23 April 2014

The Big Allotment Challenge

A month or so ago, I was approached by a casting producer looking for contestants for the Big Allotment Challenge series 2. I decided against applying- not least as the filming takes place near Reading. Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to tend the veg I grow in my urban garden.

As a result I thought I'd watch the first episode of the Big Allotment Challenge last week. For those who haven't seen it, the programme applies the Great British Bake Off formula to the sort of vegetable growing and chutney making competitions one finds at rural fetes. Although I enjoy both gardening and cooking, the show didn't really do it for me, and I got to thinking why.

At the heart of it is why I like growing my own veg. Growing giant uniform radishes or the longest beans isn't what interests me. For me, a big part of the pleasure is producing my own food. Nothing beats the taste of veg freshly harvested from the garden: well, most of the time anyway - I'll admit I've eaten the odd woody beetroot, bitter salad leaves and tough runner beans. Growing, harvesting and eating my own fruit and veg allows me to connect with the land and the changing of the seasons in a way that modern life rarely allows. Also there's the chance to grow things that can be hard to buy in the shops, salad leaves such as claytonia or red orache, or which spoil quickly once picked. Finally, I can feel smug that the veg is organic, seasonal and comes with minimal food miles.

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