Last Strawberries of a slug Summer …

The slugs have kept a wisely low profile over the last two nights.  

Planted in alongside the leeks, salad and spinch beet are a few ripening strawberry plants and ripening tomatoes for the animals. Exotic fruit and imported vegetables such as onions and tomatoes became hard to obtain due to the dangers of shipping in the last war, being some of  the many imports we relied on in the 1940s.

Onions from Spain and the Mediterranean coasts, tomatoes from Jersey and the Channel Islands became unobtainable once they were ‘Occupied’ . The BBC’s excellent 1990s series book of the Wartime Kitchen and Garden by Jennifer Davies (still obtainable second hand) notes that wartime tomato varieties were obtained for  the series from The Guernsey Tomato Museum. I wonder if this is still open?

We were shown a video on the future threat of Peak Oil during a training session here on sustainable tourism and transition towns at the zoo recently. I wonder how many zoos and families will soon go down  the Grow Your Own route of 1970s ‘Good Life’ self sufficiency. I heard from colleagues at Durrell / Jersey Zoo that they have an organic market garden already, due to the high cost of shipping in exotic fruit and vegetables to an island with a helpful long tradition of market gardening. One town ‘up North’ , Todmorden has followed the Cuban route of  planting up all the town’s verges, canal banks, roundabouts and spare ground with fruit and veg in wartime Dig For Victory Garden style , hoping to be self sufficient by 2018.

One day hopefully all zoos will have their own Victory Gardens. They have one I hear at The White House now to mark Barack Obama’s arrival. I think we have a long way to go in the zoo before we get to self sufficiency, but from small acorns…

World War Zoo

World War Zoo is about looking back and looking forward, learning from the past to prepare for our future. The project developed from a chance discovery that zoos were closed in the early weeks of World War Two, and even though they were re-opened and supported as a way to boost moral, they struggled throughout. This was a time when food was short, and animals didn’t get ration books. Staffing was low with keepers being called up to fight, and repairs were difficult.

‘‘Our Wartime Garden project reflects the Dig for Victory gardens that sprang up in unlikely places all over the country, including zoos. It will also act as a living memorial to the bravery of many ordinary men, women and children. Newquay Zoo already recycles, composts and think about food miles when sourcing food for the café, and now the Victory Garden will demonstrate how keepers would grow food for the animals.’’

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