At New Year many of us start to think about ways to improve ourselves and the world around us by growing our own organic fruit and vegetables.
For the lucky ones this might mean a renewed effort to make good on the garden, or for city dwellers like me it means hunting out some
green space on an allotment or community garden.
Last year I decided to try my hand at growing by taking on a small part of a plot on Inverleith Allotments in Edinburgh. I thought it would be a good way to learn how difficult it really is to produce your own food, while I attempt to write a book about fruit and vegetables. I cannot pretend that I had huge success (though I did grow a prize-winning cucumber), but I can say that I learned a little bit about spadework and patience, and a lot about slugs.
There are believed to be 300,000 allotments in Britain, with around 10,000 in Scotland. The plots were first established at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to give the new urban poor somewhere to grow food.
But allotments only really took off after the First World War, when it became apparent how important it was to grow our own food when fresh produce was cut off by submarines.
Inverleith Allotments, which celebrates its centenary this year, is one of the many Scottish allotments established post-WW1. During
the Second World War the Government actively encouraged this self-sufficiency with the Dig for Victory campaign.
The number of allotments in Britain rose to an all-time-high of 1.5 million in 1943. In 1947, 11% of our fruit and veg was homegrown. Now it is just 3%.
Read the rest of this feature in the January 2019 issue of Scottish Field, out now.