Happy Birthday World War Zoo! Wartime gardens project at Newquay Zoo turns 1 years old.

Happy birthday to our wartime vegetables!

Happy birthday to our wartime vegetables …

 Appropriately for our first birthday week (the garden was officially launched to the public a year ago 2009 on the August Bank holiday), we have just topped our previous busiest day back in early Spring  at 65 readers in a single day. This soon adds up to over 6770 readers so far in our first year, 63 posts and lots of lovely comments. We’ve put the gardens project and blog in for a national BIAZA zoo education award which we hear the result of in November 2010, fingers crossed.  

I was talking last week about the wartime garden project and our progress with a planned book and wartime diary extracts from our archive with local Cornish author and maritime historian Elvin Carter. Elvin kindly popped back with a copy of his latest book for me to read, The Last Voyage of the Olivebank, being the 1939 grain race tall ship diaries of Len Townend (published by Blue Elvan books, UK ISBN 9780955995019). Elvin pointed out an unusual little epilogue at the back of this new companion volume to his 2008 book about the grain race sailor diaries of Geoffrey Sykes Robertshaw  (Before The Mast, ISBN 0955995002). The grain races of 1938-39 are also famously described in Eric Newby’s book,  The Last Grain Race. There’s more about each book at http://www.bookcase.co.uk/  

Len Townend wrote as his final words (he died in 1998, aged 81):

“When the coal and oil supplies become exhausted (as in time they surely must) and if once again the great windships sail the seas (as they may) and if there is such a thing as reincarnation (and I am selfish enough to hope that there is) , then it would be my hope that I may reappear and for a time at least tramp around a capstan or take in a Royal on some black foul night with my old shipmates of yesteryear.”

"Let your shopping help our shipping" was one propaganda message about saving food - grow your own is another, promoted by a typical piece of advertising from a wartime gardening magazine (from the World War Zoo gardening collection / archive at Newquay Zoo).

The tragic events which befell the Olivebank in the early weeks of the war and the rest of Len Townend’s wartime Merchant Navy career illustrate how dependent Britain was on shipping and how vital the National Growmore Campaign or Grow Your Own movement was to become. 70 years ago this month, the latest version of “Dig For Victory” was launched as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies overhead. There is more about this topic in previous posts and at the excellent Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum London (until Jan 2011) – see links and blogroll for details.

People have been potting up seeds in newspaper pots at the zoo this week, just as before on our wartime garden weekends in May. Our wartime zoo trail is busy with zoo visitors as part of our  plant hunters  themed week at Newquay Zoo www.newquayzoo.org.uk

The garden is looking a little sparse as the broad beans are now saved for seed or happily peeled and eaten in their pods by monkeys. 

Seed saving of beautiful flower heads of leeks, alive with bees and butterflies. World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

A new batch of seedlings are in the ground for the autumn.     

You can read about the last year’s events on the past 63 posts available in our archive post section.

Happy Birthday, World War Zoo!

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One Response to “Happy Birthday World War Zoo! Wartime gardens project at Newquay Zoo turns 1 years old.”

  1. Estelle Florance Says:

    Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought, he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.


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