Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960: growing food
From the 1960s supermarkets began opening in the Dales. People who didn’t enjoy gardening started to buy their food. Vegetable growing fell out of favour, slug-holed cabbages unable to compete with waxed, wrapped perfection. But those with a passion for gardening eagerly scoured the increasingly available seed catalogues and magazines, and continued to grow the same seed that worked for them. And there was always room for an experiment or two, making demands on their skills crafted over decades.
Many of our interviewees wished they’d asked their parents and grandparents more questions about day-to-day activities, and are shyly delighted as they recall memories from their childhood. As children they were taught how to be useful: chitting potatoes; bringing in the cows for milking; stirring either the pig’s warm blood for black pudding or sheep’s manure in the water butt for liquid fertiliser; laying eggs down in waterglass; and making butter and cheese. Daily tasks were ingrained in them from watching and doing.
Between childhood and old age our interviewees got on with their lives; now they are old and tell their stories. As they speak and we listen to tales that aren’t all rosy, a constant phrase is heard: 'we came to no harm'. Some of the memories are particularly poignant, coming from people who know that they have dementia. Unhappily they fumble to remember what it was they had for lunch an hour ago, and laugh with pleasure as they remember scrattling in the soil to check when potatoes were ready to dig up for lunch 60 years ago.
For more information about the Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960 project, contact Sally Reckert.
To read about the methodology of the Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960 project, please click here.