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Alan Titchmarsh in GW January edition

I wasn't sure where to post this, but having read Alan's Tales inside the back cover today - it made we feel like to weeping.

When I was a child growing up in the 50's & 60's my family along with more than half the population of our island were involved in growing tomatoes. It was a way of life for most of us. Dad, Grandad, G. Uncle, mum, my 2 brothers, my sister and I were all involved in one way or another. From steaming (sterilizing) the soil in the greenhouses in the winter, to planting the seedlings, thinning the leaves, picking the fruit, lining the baskets or boxes, grading and sending down to the harbour, the phone call from the handler to give us the prices etc. etc. it was labour intensive but the rewards were good. The influx of cheaper toms from countries where heating greenhouses wasn't necessary and subsidies from their governments meant that Guernsey could not afford to compete hence the decline. Guernsey growers didn't give up - they grew cold crops including peppers, freesias, roses, kiwi fruit, but not all these crops were successful in monitory or labour terms. We had one old worker who refused to give up so he grew outdoor violets - imagine the back breaking work involved with sowing them, tending them and then bunching them to send to London markets.

So now we are known as a Finance offshore centre - does that make my blood boil!!

Sorry rant over. I will go have a cold shower now.



  • Joyce21Joyce21 Posts: 15,489

    GD - the Clyde Valley in Scotland suffered in the same way as Guernsey.  The area used to be covered in greenhouses but no more apart from a few small growers.

    SW Scotland
  • I didn't know that Joyce - it is sad but I suppose inevitable. You don't realize how good things are until they have gone - that industry cannot be replaced and the quality of life just isn't the same. Hey ho.

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    This is the story of so many British industries and enterprises: foreign subsidies, cheaper labour costs and sometimes easier access to materials have changed the life GD and I and many more on this site grew up with. Free markets and globalisation and government indifference have all played their part. I think these are the reasons for Brexit, Trump, the rise of the extreme right wing in many European countries, and a general feeling of helplessness and loss. Yours isn't so much a rant, GD, as a lament, and I am right with you.

  • I know you are right Posy, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.  We are told that we must move with the times - but the times aren't good - where is the pride in what was once Britain? I know I sound like my Dad and his Dad before him, but so much has changed and not all for the better.  However this isn't a political forum, but Alan certainly got me thinking of how easily we lost not only our main industry but more than that - our quality of life.

  • LynLyn Posts: 21,363

    Similar here GD, you may like to read these books 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • I just read the first part of their move to Cornwall, and will continue reading them - they are very interesting and I wonder if they stay there for the rest of their days.

  • LynLyn Posts: 21,363

    They did GD?

    quite sad in places.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • imageIt has hit the headlines.  The local newspaper ran this article at the w/end.  So many Guernsey people were saddened by the loss of the growing industry as we knew it and agree wholeheartedly with Alan's comments, but thankfully a few growers are hanging on still - Raymond Evison and his clematis is one of them.

  • Aster2Aster2 Posts: 629

    I'd just assumed it was possible to replace heated greenhouse crops with some that would benefit from the milder climate but wouldn't need any heating, so I was sorry to read in GD's post that that didn't work out.

  • I thought so too Aster, but it is cheaper to import salad & other such crops from far flung places where the sun shines all year through and labour is cheaper than it is here.  We have the problem of expensive freight, high cost of living and the lure of clean office work for school leavers here now.  Most unskilled labour is done by foreigners now, just as it is in the u.k, especially in the production of food growing.

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