Archive for the ‘vegetable gardening’ Category

Jumpy Frogs, Seed Saving and Scent in our Wartime Allotment at Newquay Zoo

August 23, 2018

 

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Captured on camera at last … a youngish well camouflaged froglet, August 2018.  

I have spotted frogs hopping around the World War Zoo gardens allotment several times whilst weeding  and watering this summer. This is the first time I  have caught them on camera.

It is a young Common or European FrogRana temporaria, a little smaller than the one I saw in the same place several weeks ago  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_frog

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Frog still from film clip 

This common frog is a good sign, that things have stayed damp and healthy for wildlife on this allotment plot. This frog is also some free slug control, as I use no slug pellets or chemicals, as  many of these plants are intended as food for our zoo animals.

These tiny carnivores will be hunting slugs, snails, insects and worms across our tiny allotment on the Lion House lawn, right next door to the Lion House where our larger carnivores live at Newquay Zoo.

It’s nearing the end of the summer season for the World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden allotment.

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World War Zoo Gardens allotment plot at Newquay Zoo, emptying and thinning out as the holiday season ends, 23  August 2018 

I find it hard to believe that it’s also our World War Zoo Gardens  project’s 9th Birthday this Bank Holiday weekend, so it got a quick trim and tidy up before I have a couple of days off.

You can revisit our first blog entries in August 2009 onwards https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/world-war-zoo-project-–-newquay-zoo’s-wartime-garden-2009/

Some Broad Bean seeds have been saved and dried, others have been a rare very fresh food treat, tricky things to pod for  our Macaques and other monkeys. Seed saving was an important feature of the wartime garden, to set aside seeds for planting the next year.

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Poppy seed  heads in a zoo café brown paper bag and Broad Beans seeds to  save, August 2018 

Our contribution to the nationwide Ribbon of Poppies project planted for Armistice 1918 / 2018 is now almost over, just a few poppies in flower left.

The dried seed heads have been collected up in a café brown paper bag to dry off (plastic bags don’t work well for this) whilst some have already self-seeded for next year’s Ribbon of Poppies. Plenty of keepers and zoo staff died after 1918 from the effects of war service as mentioned here – we will mark each sad centenary with a blogpost  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/100-days-and-the-black-day-of-the-german-army-8th-august-1918/

On a more cheerful and smelly note, we have been harvesting herbs for zoo animal scent enrichment,  especially our carnivores.

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Carnivore Keepers’ food prep bench, with fresh bundles of  Mint, Lemon balm and  Rosemary, tied up with dry palm frond “twine”, August 2018. 

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Food prep – Locusts, mealworms, soaked pulses, hard boiled eggs, needlefree syringes for vitamin supplements and my fresh bouquet of Rhubarb Chard and Spinach tops. As I scrawled on the Primate Keepers’ whiteboard, these are possibly the last of the 2018 season? 

So Happy Birthday to the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo, nine years young.

Our coming year 2019 sees Newquay Zoo’s 50th anniversary (26 May 1969 / 2019) https://newquayzoohistory.wordpress.com/

It is  also in September 2019 the 80th anniversary of the Outbreak of World War Two, when zoo keepers in many nations dug up their lawns to feed their zoo animals.

As the WW1 centenary comes to an end, I expect this 80th anniversary of 1939/2019 will bring a resurgence of primary school projects marking the 80th anniversary of WW2 including our schools workshop / talks https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/remembering-the-start-of-the-blitz-7-september-1940-and-a-happy-new-school-term/

Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend!

Blogposted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, World War Zoo gardens project, 23 August 2018.

Gardening with Children 1908 and 2018

August 15, 2018

Jekyll children

 

1908 and 2018 – an interesting question: How best do you involve children in gardening? This is something staff at a zoological or botanic garden are sometimes asked, because gardening can be good for wildlife, for sustainability and for your mental health.

A blog comment or email from the USA arrived at Newquay Zoo recently:

“My name is Scott. I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way.”

I am fortunate to have (had) lots of fun chats with children and families whilst working in our World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo. Some children sneakily eat the edible stuff when I’m not there. Best of all, children often tell me about what they grow at home or in school.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/overheard-at-the-world-war-zoo-gardens/

How to Get Children Gardening

Back in 1908 the famous British garden writer and designer Gertrude Jekyll (rhymes with treacle) wrote a surprising book for its time called Children and Gardens. It was published by Country Life in both Britain and America.

Since reprinted and still available, you can also read a scanned Archive.org  copy here, free:

https://archive.org/stream/childrengardens00jeky

Within a decade as World War 1 ground on, as most of the younger gardeners were called up on active service, these same British children would be encouraged at home and school to grow their own  food. The German U-boat submarine blockades seriously hit the import of food to Britain by merchant shipping.  Bad harvests were recorded in 1916 / 1917, leading to food ration books being issued in Britain in 1918.

American children were also encouraged to grow food, as part of Uncle Sam’s patriotic United States Schools Garden Army, after the USA entered the war in 1917. https://blogs.loc.gov/inside_adams/2017/01/the-school-garden-army-in-the-first-world-war/

This was WW2 Dig For Victory  25 years early, as mentioned in my March 2013 blogpost on Herbert Cowley, an injured WW1 gardening writer who was a friend and photographer to Gertrude Jekyll:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

Gertrude Jekyll in 1908 had some interesting ideas about giving children ownership and pride in their gardens:

childrengardens00jeky_0039

Staking your territory and naming it in plants.

I hope Gertrude Jekyll’s book encouraged at least a few parents of  posh Edwardian children to let them get a little bit dirty, wear practical working clothes and grow some food in real dirt.

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It might have given them a tiny but valuable appreciation of the manual toil of the working classes around the world who put food on their tables.

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From Children and Gardens … almost a feel or  look of Heligan gardens before that garden went quietly to sleep after WW1.

Hopefully some Edwardian children had some muddy, spud eating fun growing up, because of Gertrude Jekyll’s 1908 book.

Dyb Dyb Dig!

It is also interesting to note that the Baden Powell Scout Movement came into being around this time (1907/8), quickly followed by the Guides (191)) for the kind of girls who had already cleverly highjacked or gatecrashed their brothers’ opportunities to set up scout troops.

http://www.scoutsrecords.org/explore.php?dil=&icerik=80&bparent=CB6FCCF1AB7A8F1765FC3A9D09C9ACAE&

Girl Guides can be seen market gardening in 1917 here in this IWM image Q 108289 : https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205087807

Interesting IWM WW1 Centenary article:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/10-ways-children-took-part-in-the-first-world-war

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918

WW1 school girls  involved in gardening –  IWM image Q31135

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31155)

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918

IWM Q31153 Horace Nicholls’ WW1  photo of British Schoolgirls growing food. 

CHILDREN ON THE HOME FRONT 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 31153)

Some photos even show air raid shocked children gardening as convalescence and therapy https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205296421

THE MEDICAL SERVICES ON THE HOME FRONT, 1914-1918

© IWM (Q 30542)

Caption: Air-raid shocked girls from the Llangattock School of Arts and Crafts, gardening their own plots at the Kitchener Heritage home for air-raid shocked children and educative convalescence for disabled soldiers at Chailey, Sussex. IWM Collection:  THE MEDICAL SERVICES ON THE HOME FRONT, 1914-1918 © IWM (Q 30542)

2018: It is the final year of the 1914-18 centenary. Within ten years of 1908, plenty of the young boys shown in Gertrude’s book would have been in khaki uniform and have had a very different experience of digging and mud than you could ever wish for anyone.

Some of the girls could have ended up working the land in the WW1 version of Land Girls, growing herbs or nursing for the same war effort.

childrengardens00jeky_0164 campfire

As the book was reprinted in 1933, some  photographs appear to have been retaken orupdated,  as I have seen some charmingly relaxed 1930s/ 1940s versions of my parent’s generation.

These 1908 pictures of children in the garden are surreal, whimsical, reminiscent of E. Nesbit and The Secret Garden, Cottingley fairies, Beatrix Potter and Alice in Wonderland.

childrengardens00jeky_0157 fun

Some garden sandpit, this one!

childrengardens00jeky_0158 in the sand pit

childrengardens00jeky_0068 saved seeds

This is in part an improving, natural history book, practically written advice to children and written for children (and parents) to read.
childrengardens00jeky_0167 tea kitchen

There is a whole chapter on Gertrude Jekyll’s cats sunning themselves in the garden, a hundred years before Youtube and The Internet was invented to show cute cat videos.

childrengardens00jeky_0109 first garden

Lots of personal childhood experiences in Gertrude’s book.

Most important is a patch of ground that a child can call its own to play, dig  or grow stuff. Modern urban British back gardens tend to be far too tiny.

trelawney-garden-centre-and-bop-wartime-garden-blog-0810-001

Gardening advice, Boy’s Own Paper August 1940 – I’m not sure children would be allowed to mess around with Derris Dust today!

Dig for Victory gardens (or Victory Gardens in the USA) in WW2 were important ways to feed the family and involve schools and children in the war effort.

Popular monthly children’s magazines would have gardening articles by famous gardening authors:  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/gardening-and-garden-centres-for-growing-wartime-boys-tomboys-and-garden-gnomes-“go-to-it-lads”-the-boy’s-own-paper-august-1940/

 

Scott’s email 2018

1908 / 1918 / / 1940 / 2018: I was reminded of all this Children and Gardens material when I received an interesting email from a fellow blogger in the USA:

“My name is Scott and I am writing to you because as a gardening Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way. This seems particularly important today as kids would rather spend their time watching Disney Channel or playing video games when given a choice between TV and playing outside.”

I’m sure the Wild Network movement would agree with Scott about the threat of us all becoming a nation of “glassy eyed zombies” on I-pads and I-phones, or as my 1970s childhood version, “square eyed”.  However, before anyone complains,  video games and cartoons have their place in life.

Scott at the Architypes blog continues:

“Now as a blogger I have combined my experience with gardening and kids to create a helpful guide to prove that with a little creativity you can get kids excited about gardening.

You can see Scott’s ideas here: https://www.architypes.net/gardening/kids/

Scott came across World War Zoo gardens through our blog post  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/category/vegetable-gardening/page/4/ while doing some research and thought you might be interested in some of his ideas.

“Perhaps you could mention it on your blog or links page. Please let me know what you think, it would be great to work with you. Thanks for your time, Scott.”

There is some good advice from Scott in his article that I’m sure Gertrude Jekyll and the 1940s Dig For Victory gardeners would approve of.

Thankfully there are today some good books and websites on involving children with gardens, both in school, home and the community. Here are a few more websites from the UK, Australia and America, once you have read through Scott’s ideas:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/

https://www.rhs.org.uk/education-learning/gardening-children-schools

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/gardening-for-children

https://kidsgardening.org/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children

As the modern Gerturde Jekyll of gardening TV today, Alan Titchmarsh, would say: “Whatever the Weather, Enjoy Your Garden!”

childrengardens00jeky_0171 paired children

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, August  2018.

 

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Our contribution to the UK-wide “Ribbon of Poppies”, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, July 2018. This is where I start singing from our old school hymnbook Pete Seeger’s 1950s / 1960s protest song “Where have all the flowers gone?” 

Overheard at the World War Zoo Gardens

August 6, 2018

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Rationing Section – World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Overheard early today whilst quietly watering the very dry and thirsty plants at the World War Zoo Gardens recreated zoo keepers’ allotment at Newquay Zoo.

A small family group approached the garden and looked at all the plants and then the garden sign.

Visiting Mum to her small boy: “See this ration book here on the sign?” 

Small boy looks at ration book on the sign and nods.

Mum: “This is what Granny had when she was a little girl.” 

“During the war food was rationed by these coupons and you often didn’t have very much food on your plate.”  

I want you to think about that ration book tonight and the next time you don’t eat all the vegetables and food on your plate.

Small boy stayed thoughtful and quiet throughout this last bit, before the family all walked away to look at more animals.

Point well made, I kept respectfully quiet, as this child was already outnumbered by family adults.

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World War Zoo Gardens allotment, Newquay Zoo, July 2018 

I have overheard some fantastic family learning and conversations going on amongst visiting groups, whilst working in our zoo wartime  garden allotment next to the Lion House.

I have had great conversations with zoo visitors old and young about the plants and the history side.

I have heard the garden talked about and identified variously as Mr Bloom’s Garden, Mr McGregors’ Garden (hopefully without Peter Rabbit) or Granddad’s allotment.

Today’s overheard conversation  taught me one thing:

You can read books on interpretation and signage.

You can undertake brilliant visitor evaluation research on signage impact.

You can write wordy Learning Outcomes for your education project.

You can use long words like food security, Education and Engagement, cross-generational learning or  inter-generational learning.

What you can’t easily do is measure how wonderful and simple that parent / child / family interaction was. 

Thanks to that Mum, she made my day. It made the whole garden project worthwhile.

I will make sure to clear my plate tonight.

Herbs and garden sign Newquay Zoo 2015

On the fence next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads for our monkeys, harvested October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 6th August 2018.

 

A ribbon or tiny bow-quet of poppies, flowers and vegetables?

July 3, 2018

 

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Ladybird poppies at Newquay Zoo’s  World War Zoo Gardens allotment July 2018 

 

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Poppies popping up all over our wartime zoo keeper’s vegetable garden now!

Our Ribbon of Poppies #Ribbonofpoppies is popping up in unexpected places in our World War Zoo gardens allotment at Newquay Zoo amongst our vegetables, edible flowers  and scented herbs grown for animal food treats and scent enrichment.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

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Poppies and Poppy seedling pop up amongst the Rhubarb chard. You have to be extra careful with the weeding!

 

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Edible Blue Borage flowers – a monkey treat! 

 

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Garlic seed head in flower – a delicate treat for our monkeys, great for visiting bees too!

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Edible nasturtium leaves and flowers – and Poppies!

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‘Rhubarb’ Chard flower and seed heads and Poppies.

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Cabbages and Poppies: A wild mix of poppies for remembrance and edible vegetables for our zoo animals.

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Think this might be  Victoria Cross type of Poppy!

Lovely to see that our colleagues at Wildplace in Bristol have gone ahead with their 100 poppy varieties for the 1918 / 2018 Armistice Centenary – I hope to see this before the flowers fade.  http://wildplace.org.uk/news/poppy-garden-flourishes

Blog Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo, 3rd July 2018

 

Growing vegetables above and under ground – a strange wartime connection

May 8, 2018

 

 

messynessy underground growing

screenshot from Messy Nessy’s blog piece on Growing Underground 

Interesting blog post on the Messy Nessy Chic travel blog website about Growing Underground, a novel use for London’s old deep air raid shelters from WW2.

 

http://www.messynessychic.com/2014/02/11/london-has-a-subterranean-veggie-farm-in-an-abandoned-wwii-bunker/

messy nessy growing underground 2

The blog post about reusing London ‘Deep Shelters’ as  hydroponic salad farms also shows several  interesting archive photos of their original air raid use by civilians.

https://www.facebook.com/growingunderground

http://growing-underground.com/

Billed as Zero Carbon Food, the underground London project cuts down on food miles and ‘plot to plate’ food minutes, but they are not quite as close to their consumers as our tiny zoo allotment to its animal customers here at Newquay Zoo. Admittedly they have 2.5 acres underground in London, we have a postage stamp tiny plot of a few metres as a display garden on a once scraggy old lawn edge near our Lion House.   Jersey Zoo (Durrell Wildlife Trust) has also used an adjacent market garden for many years.

This Growing Underground idea reminds me of the Verticrop hydroponic experiment hosted at Paignton Zoo  c. 2008/2009 for a couple of years during a fascinating trial period. An innovative way  for growing fresh salad on site for the zoo animals?

https://www.bgci.org/resources/article/0784/

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2009/11/20/time-magazine-names-valcents-vertical-farming-technology-one-of-top-50-best-innovations-of-2009/

Verticrop (by Valcent) was put in experimental place at our sister zoo, Paignton Zoo in 2009 around the same time our above-ground World War Zoo garden allotment was set up here at Newquay Zoo.

I think I prefer to garden above ground and I have just planted the next lot of Ladybird poppies (for The Ribbon of Poppies Initiative). I’ve also planted  more leek seedlings, cabbage, broad beans and  rainbow chard to replace the snow and ice damage of February and March 2018. The planting areas are filling up nicely.

Maybe gardening underground you don’t get the peacocks and pigeons alongside snails as a plant eating ‘pest’ that I have to withstand here at the Zoo.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

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World War Zoo Garden planting areas, Newquay Zoo – after the snow and ice of the Beast from the East, March 2018, not much survived except colourful Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard. 

 

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Looking leafier – May 2018 after replanting 

 

 

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Poppy seedlings coming through, Ladybird poppy flower heads forming. Our part of the Ribbon Of Poppies for Armistice 1918 / 2018 is now in parts growing well. 

 

However and wherever you garden, enjoy your day and your garden!

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo, 8 May 2018.

 

 

International Women’s Day March 8th – Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover

March 8, 2018

my home Cover

WLA Land Girl on front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 price 9d (Author’s collection/WWZG) Note the length of service armband.  

It were never that glamorous! A rather fluffy and idealised portrait of life for a WLA Land Girl is shown on the front cover of My Home magazine March 1945 (price 9d).

Life for the women of the Women’s Land Army was often very different, especially in winter.

Land Girls served in wartime zoos,  such as the team running the ‘Off the Ration’ Exhibition at London Zoo, set up with the Ministry of Information etc, to show householders how to look after simple food animals – pigs, rabbits, chickens.

This linked to a simple model wartime farm and garden which was established, as at Kew Gardens, to give gardening and livestock advice to members of the public and visitors.  Some Whipsnade Zoo paddocks were also ploughed up (by horse and elephant!) to be farmed for the war effort.

land army greatcoat labelThe quite small sized Land Girls woollen overcoat is quite a popular but surprisingly heavy fashion item for visiting schoolgirls to try on during our World War Zoo schools wartime workshop at Newquay Zoohttps://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/education-clubs/school-visits

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/ww2-at-newquay-zoo-and-other-primary-workshops-inspired-by-the-new-curriculum/

 

wartime clothing

Women’s Land Army greatcoat (second from right)in our original wartime clothing section.

 

Marking International Women’s Day March 8th and the activities of extraordinary ordinary women such as the Women’s Land Army in WW1 and WW2 with this colourful  Land Army Girls March 1945 magazine cover.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 8 March 2018

 

 

Journal articles about World War Zoo Gardens

October 2, 2017

 

Some lovely online journal links to the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo 

 

BGEN web article https://bgen.org.uk/resources/free/using-the-garden-ghosts-of-your-wartime-or-historic-past/

 

BGCI Roots journal https://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/Roots_PDFs/Roots%207.1.pdf  

 

ABWAK Keepers journal March 2014 https://abwak.org/uploads/PDF%20documents/RATEL%20PDFs/RATEL_March_2014.pdf 

 

IZE journal no. 50 2014 http://izea.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/1.-FULL-IZE-Journal-2014-FINAL-.pdf 

 

World War Zoo Gardens Blog https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/   

 

You’re already here! Published since 2009, including centenary posts on the centenary anniversary of each zoo staff or zoo gardener, botanic gardener, gardener, naturalist and associated trades that we are aware of as having been killed in WW1 or WW2.

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/worldwarzoo1939

 

 

The original Dig For Victory Teachers Pack from the Royal Parks / Imperial War Musuem 2008 allotment project

 

http://www.carrickfergusinbloom.org/DFVTeachersPack.pdf

 

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Monday 2nd October 2017

 

 

 

National Allotments Week August 2017

August 21, 2017

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A little corner patch of our wartime zoo keeper’s allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2017 

National Allotments Week 2017 has just come to an end  (14 to 20 August 2017) – some great historic images on this history of allotments website:

https://www.learningwithexperts.com/gardening/blog/the-history-of-allotments

Ministry of Food Formed

December 22, 2016

The Ministry of Food was formed on December 22 1916. It was formed to deal with the increasing supply problems of bad harvests, an ongoing war requiring food for civilians, war workers and troops, call up of agricultural workers and horses affecting farming and merchant shipping threatened by German U-boats.

ww1 ration book

WW1 child and adult ration books from the Ministry of Food (October 1918)

The Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of Pensions were formed on the same day, the same time that a new War cabinet wad formed under the new Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C786

National Archives file summary:

The first Ministry of Food was established on 22 December 1916 under a Food Controller who, under the New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916, was empowered to regulate the supply and consumption of food and take steps for encouraging food production.

The Ministry was dissolved on 31 March 1921.

“Never Mind the Food Controller, We’ll Live on Love …” was a popular gramophone and music hall song by Florrie Forde at this time.

 The Ministry of Food survived until 1921, was reformed in 1939 for WW2 and later in the 1955 became MAFF and since 2002 DEFRA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Food_(United_Kingdom)#Minister_of_Food_Control_.281916.E2.80.931921.29

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a WW1  ration book

The national food situation would become a growing concern for gardeners and garden editors like Herbert Cowley:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Elsie Widdowson and WW2 rationing

August 18, 2016

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World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

It’s August. The schools are on 2016 holiday break and Newquay Zoo is lovely and busy with families. http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/

I am also lovely and busy, preparing, repairing and refreshing schools and college workshop materials for September.

For the new City and Guilds 2016 syllabus  on animal managment delivered at  Newquay Zoo and Cornwall College Newquay,  I have been preparing new sessions for my new 16-19 year old students on animal feeding and nutrition.

https://www.cornwall.ac.uk/campus/cornwall-college-newquay

http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/education-clubs/cornwall-college

One of the challenging new elements is a bit of biochemistry (and it’s a long time since I did my O levels!)

In the course of finding simple enough ways for me to understand and explain the new nutrition bits such as the  chemical structure of amino acids, protein bonds and suchlike,  I came across this great BBC clip on Elsie Widdowson from CBBC’s Absolute Genius team Dick and Dom:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/zf9rkqt

Dr. Elsie  Who?

I feel I should know the name, as I have been looking at wartime gardening and rationing since 2009 as part of the World War Zoo gardens project workshops for schools.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

 

Elsie_Widdowson

Reading the story brought back very vague memories of this story being noted in passing in histories of food in wartime, rationing and gardening.

So who was Elsie Widdowson?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsie_Widdowson

A trip to the kitchens at King’s College Hospital, London, brought her into contact with Professor Robert McCance, who was carrying out research into the best diets for people with diabetes. The two bonded and started on a research partnership that was to span 60 years.

They studied the effect poor nutrition has in adulthood and their book The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940, became the “bible” on which modern nutritional thinking is founded.

Soon after the war started, she and Prof McCance lived for weeks in the Lake District eating the diet which they thought the British should consume during World War II to maintain basic health.They also cycled round Cambridge to study the importance of energy expenditure on diet. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

There’s a new volume for the World War Zoo gardening bookshelf – The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940 – and the 7th edition (2014 version) is still in print on Amazon from the Food Standards agency today.

World War Zoo Children evacuation suitcase & garden items Oct 09 018

Delabole Co-op and Camelford stores in Cornwall for meat, registered with Haddy’s for other rationed items, (is Haddy’s still going?) this well used (light brown adult RB1) Ration Book from Cornwall is part of our wartime life collection (copyright: World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo).

Widdowson and McCance headed the first mandated addition of vitamins and mineral to food. Their work began in the early 1940s, when calcium was added to bread.  They were also responsible for formulating the wartime rationing of Britain during World War II. (Elsie Widdowson’s Wikipedia entry)

Elsie Widdowson, wartime rationing star and Mother of the modern loaf as this BBC report named her – that’s one to chew on when you’re eating your lunchtime sarnies!

Elsie Widdowson and her scientific partner, Robert McCance, oversaw the first compulsory addition of a substance to food in the early 1940s, when calcium was introduced to bread. They were also responsible for formulating war-time rationing – some experts say that under their diet of mainly bread, vegetables and potatoes, that was when Britain was at its healthiest.(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6228307.stm)

A biography  of sorts exists – McCance and Widdowson: A Scientific Partnership of 60 Years, 1933-93  A Commemorative Volume about Robert McCance CBE, FRS and Elsie May Widdowson CBE, FRS   published / edited by  Margaret Ashwell in 1993.

Interesting medical history blog entry by Laura Dawes about early  wartime food security concerns in Britain with a brilliant wartime photograph of McCance and Widdowson:


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