We Need to Be More Self-sufficient

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Minister’s call to ‘Dig for Survival’ echoes key RHS aims

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has today come out in support of Minister for Agriculture David Heath’s comments on the urgent need for Britain to focus on food security and educate children about the importance of knowing the origins of food.

The Minister’s view is one which closely mirrors the tenets of the RHS which runs both Britain in Bloom and the Campaign for School Gardening – initiatives aimed at encouraging British children and communities to grow their own fruit and vegetables. The RHS is no stranger to rallying communities to grow their own in the name of national security as one of the original pioneers of the World War II ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign.

Andrea Van Sittart, RHS Head of Regional Development, says: “We need to become more self-sufficient and where best to start than at the grassroots level, by gardening with neighbours. We support over 3,300 RHS Britain in Bloom groups across the UK in growing their own food for their local communities. They hold Grow Your Own sessions and workshops and we’d like to encourage the public to find their local group and get growing.”

“It’s also important that children learn from a young age about where their food comes from. A crucial part of this is giving children the chance to grow their own food at school and through the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, over 17,000 schools are already doing this. We support schools with a range of resources and also train teachers to incorporate gardening and food growing into lessons.”

During April, RHS community gardening groups are planting 1,000 mini edible plant plots in public spaces across the UK with seeds provided by the RHS. ‘Edible Britain’ is the theme of this year’s RHS Britain in Bloom campaign and is spearheaded by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc who believes passionately that the public should re-connect with where their food comes from.

Mr Heath says the public needs to ‘dig for survival’, a comment which harks back to ‘Dig for Victory’. The RHS was a collaborator in this World War II government campaign, which encouraged people to transform gardens and parks into public allotments.

He says: “We need to be able to produce enough to deal with the requirements in this country. Food security is going to be an issue of increasing relevance.”

Mr Heath also pointed out the need for school gardening saying that children should be able to ‘get their hands dirty and share in growing vegetables’.

Anyone can join their local Britain in Bloom group by typing in their postcode into an online map at rhs.org.uk/getinvolved and schools can sign-up for free to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening by visiting rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening



Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Hayley Monckton, 020 7821 3045 hayleymonckton@rhs.org.uk or Ed Horne 020 7821 3356 edhorne@rhs.org.uk in the RHS Press Office.

About RHS Britain in Bloom
RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community gardening campaign, involving more than 300,000 people. As part of RHS Britain in Bloom – and its sister campaign, RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to improve their local environment, using gardening as a tool.
To find out more, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/communities  

Get Involved Map
The online map enables volunteers to find and contact their local community gardening groups and schools registered with the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. There are thousands of opportunities to get involved with community gardening groups and schools around the UK. To search through more than 1,000 “in Bloom” groups, 1,100 It's Your Neighbourhood groups, 16,500 schools and 1,235 affiliated clubs and societies, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/getinvolved  

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS actively involves more than 16,700 schools across the UK in growing and gardening through its Campaign for School Gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment. Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Huge benefits are to be had from using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS education team and Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 200 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262