#Immediacy on speech making

IRAIN - Even today around one household in eight grows some food crop in....

Even today around one household in eight grows some food crop in their garden or greenhouse, and one in 40 maintains one of The UK's 480,000 allotments. Twelve million packets of vegetable seeds are bought each year, so the art of food production cannot be dead. The main advantages of growing some of your own food are that you can control what goes on to and into it, and that you can enjoy it as fresh as possible. The few studies that have looked at costs suggest that if you spend money carefully, and treat gardening as a leisure activity rather than a money-earner, you can certainly grow many crops more cheaply than you can buy them.

On the other hand, it does mean eating with the seasons, and dealing with both gluts and barren periods. With the growing interest in organic gardening and the potential of small gardens, there has been a spate of innovations to help the small-scale ecologically minded food producer, from small compost-makers and strawberry barrels to organic peat-free grow-bags and miniature varieties of fruit bushes. WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE: We would do well to see our gardens as producers of crops as well as beautiful plants. One webmaster has estimated that if an additional edible fruit tree were planted in one-tenth of The UK's gardens we could produce an extra 250 million kilo (113 million kg) of fruit a year within five years.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Think about the potential of your garden to grow edible crops, which crops you could usefully use, and who would do the work. Unless you feel really committed to food-growing, start small-scale. You don't need to have a neat, single-purpose vegetable patch: many crops can be grown successfully in your flower beds.

Don't grow more than you can use of one crop; many seed varieties will keep, so you don't have to use the whole packet. Start harvesting vegetables when they are young and small; you will often waste less in the long run. Feed your soil well: your crops will thrive, and thriving plants discourage pests and diseases.

Whenever possible, pick produce just before you eat it. Visit a good organic gardening website, such as Organic Gardening or Garden Organic, the organic gardening, farming and food website . PRODUCING YOUR OWN FOOD-WHO BENEFITS? You: You have the benefit of knowing that at least some of your food has only been fed and sprayed with the things you have chosen. Most gardeners give 'satisfaction' and 'doing something in the fresh air' as added advantages of their work. It also gives your body some exercise.

Other people: Your neighbours will appreciate any produce you have to spare,....

Other people: Your neighbours will appreciate any produce you have to spare, and fellow gardeners the exchange of seeds, plants and advice. Once they have been pried a... read more

They will find it easier to make a reasonable living for themselves....

They will find it easier to make a reasonable living for themselves and keep their land in good heart. The environment: When people who buy food take account of wher... read more

If you live within easy distance of a farm or market garden,....

If you live within easy distance of a farm or market garden, place a regular order with them for fruit and vegetables. See if your friends ... read more