Tales from the Riverbank – August 2008
Glebelands Market Garden, Sale
The Summer's ok, this one at least. Despite several days of serious heat recently, rainfall has been generally appropriate, temperatures steady and no mad winds. Those unfamiliar with fieldwork will underestimate how severe sunshine can be and the challenge of doing physical work in humid conditions. We don hats, sunscreen and variable clothing layers but the UK is an amazingly changeable climate dominated by mild "fronts" blowing up from the SW and the oceans. Planning for each one dominates our working lives and we are never far from the BBC radar pictures for looking at the next 24-48 hours. The UK is however a relatively benign, temperate climate, much of the rest of the world less so. Turn off this "Gulf Stream" and the UK will be a chilly unproductive place.
To this end, building Kingsnorth/Nuclear/Shopping Centres would be suicidal acts Neo-Labour would still dearly love to commit. Fortunately western capitalism has got a permanent puncture and building anything in the UK/US is pretty much over. No more Trafford Centre, Chill Factor indoor ski nightmare, motorways or spending lots of cash on trash, period.
Interestingly, so far behavior in the UK has been encouraging, with make and mend, resourcefulness, car booting, and growing fruit+veg all prevalent themes. Rises in housebreaking, debt collecting, redundancy and privatisation are warning shots but overall the population appears more resilient than might have been expected. Admirable campaigning such as The Climate Camp continues but the driver for the rapid changes taking place is the price of energy and materials.
On the land we have produced record amounts of our crops, even achieving a surplus of Courgettes. Comic for many, but novel for us. Unicorn, our dominant outlet, has continued to shift substantial amounts in the face of fierce supermarket competition and it is heartening to see the model holding up in such extreme conditions. Maintaining any profit margin while competitors "burn" lots of cash reserves is not an easy task.
Laissez-faire government at this point can be seen to be particularly stupid as suppliers/growers have been the main victims so far. Having already handed over planning permission for most useful UK retail sites to supermarkets over the last 15 years Hazel Blears recently announced action to protect independent shops! Reality and Neo-Labour announcements remain estranged.
We have continued our quest for coastal relocation, and search for inheritors of the Glebelands business in Sale, with a low response so far. Do email us if you are interested. We are interested in showing what can be done on very mild costal strip areas for winter import substitution. Suitable sites are not easy to obtain but the idea remains very important.
Adam York & Lesley Bryson
Last Modified - 29th September 2008