Oatridge WW1 allotment at Royal Highland Show

Students at SRUC Oatridge campus will be showcasing their WW1 allotment project at this year’s Royal Highland Show within the Countryside Cottage demonstration area.

The allotment is part of a collaborative project between SRUC Agriculture and Horticulture staff, students, SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) and the Royal Highland Society.

This year’s display finds its roots in the important role that food production played to counteract restrictions caused by the war in 1917, when the German navy sank 230 ships bringing food and supplies to Britain. At the end of 1917 people began to fear that the country was beginning to run out of food. Panic buying led to shortages and so in January 1918 the Ministry of food decided to introduce rationing.

SRUC Oatridge WW1 allotment garden at the Royal Highland Show 2017

The SRUC Oatridge WW1 allotment garden can be found at the countryside cottage in the RHS Showground

Another very significant development of 1917 was the formation of the Women’s Land Army providing voluntary labour with Land girls replacing servicemen who had left farms to fight in the campaign. The role of Women’s land Army will be celebrated with an exhibition inside the countryside cottage and female students will be dressed in the official uniform of the Women’s Land Army.

In February 1917 The Preston Committee was formed to secure 700 plots for allotments in the town’s parks and other public land for the growing of food.

To illustrate the historical background for this project, agricultural staff and students constructed hayricks. A special feature of this year’s project is Shetland cabbage / kale – Scotland oldest vegetable. Cultivation of this vegetable dates back to at least the 17th century.

Horticultural staff and students cultivated a wide range of food crops grown during that period each with its own story to tell, complete with accompanying hand written slate labels. Approximately 50 different vegetables and some cereal crops will be on display growing in the countryside cottage area.

George Gilchrist, Horticulture Lecturer, said:

 “We believe this is a unique opportunity to see this historic vegetable in cultivation and we are extremely grateful to SASA  for providing the seed of the nine different types on display.

“I would like to thank everyone involved with the project and especially the Royal Highland Society for inviting us to take part.”

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