This weekend we attended our local village show, there wasn't one last year and we sorely missed it but it is back now!
We started entering our produce into the village show back in 2012. We have always been fans of a good village show, it brings a community together and gives you a real chance to meet neighbours you may not see on a day to day basis. It also brings out that competitive streak that can also be found in the world of growing and baking. Carol entered two loaves in the bread category and took first and third places, a double whammy that she is immensely proud of. Bread making is always a hotly contested category at village shows, along with cakes and preserves. It's like watching the WI in a pitched battle with the Paul Hollywood tribute society. A hundred Paul Hollywood's being beaten to a pulp with Victoria sponges and French baguettes is as inspiring as popping the seal on a chutney. Village shows have become the new rock and roll for people to show their produce, this showing off has taken many forms from guerrilla gardening, to incredible edible, to television programmes with a real drive to show food and growing of food in the public arena. It is not a bad thing. Though many would have us think so. We only need to look at how we are losing allotments to housing and how cheap some so-called bread is. Growing and baking is something we should not take for granted. Neither should we allow our green spaces to become concrete spaces. Food is not a mystery, food is not something to be frightened of, or even shunned under astro turf, we all eat it and we should all at least try to grow it once we leave primary school. The ubiquitous sunflower seed given to you before the Easter holidays was fun when you were five but growing your own potatoes is a world away when it comes to pleasure. Baking your own bread is a million miles away from buying a so-called loaf from the shop. This is no longer a question of: why do you do that? It has become more a clarion call of: why don't you?
Even growing flowers can and should bring pleasure to the garden and gardener. Andrew got third for his dahlias and Carol got third for her flower arrangement.
She literally went out into the garden an hour before the show set up and collected what was in season and then prepped them in a vase. We're great believers in also getting something edible into a flower arrangement and we got in some herbs that were flowering. It's important that we see flowers that are bee friendly alongside food that is bee friendly too, and village shows can be a real melting pot for growing ideas and solutions. There are years though in which we can do nothing about the weather, and we take what we have in the garden. Sometimes the weather, like this year, has been too cool. So things are late and not ready for showing. We even made the difficult decision of not taking our dilly beans, we have a few jars but these are jars we want to save for winter and opening them now means we have to eat them. No hardship but we have fresh beans coming in all the time and canned beans are something that is glorious in the winter months.
We are awash with dahlias though and our Sensationalism variety that survived the great dahlia rot of last winter. The dahlias last year were breathtakingly beautiful and sadly we don't have the wealth we had last year but what we have are glorious and they took the third prize.
If you have a village show near you, enter it next year. If you have a front garden which is only a lawn, get rid of it and plant vegetable and flowers. If you have a windowsill, grow a tomato plant. If you have window box, grow herbs. For growing is not a private thing, it is something we should share and like food, it is necessary and it is vital. We believe that village shows are, in turn, necessary and vital so we can all connect with the community.