We’ve become so blind to the enormous (and damaging) privilege that the supermarkets create by giving us tomatoes and strawberries in winter. Who would have thought that it would take a pandemic to wake us up to the absolute necessity of being able to subsist on what the land around us is actually able to produce?!
I’m reading daily that local suppliers can hardly keep up with demand whilst the supermarket shelves are empty. I hear people discussing whether the local allotment society can help meet the needs of the community (the answer is invariably “only if the community can survive on rhubarb alone!”). Gleaning networks are suddenly joining mainstream lines of supply in rural communities. All this is coming with the slow realisation that we have entered a time of national emergency during the hungry gap, with little growing except cabbages and potatoes (and rhubarb!).
But it is Spring at last and we are planting up for a new season. Some early salads are coming through and out in the countryside there is a veritable bounty of dandelions, goose grass, nettles, violets and king of spring foraging wild garlic. Maybe this year we’ll all value the new growth a bit more, learn about when it’s coming, what is growing in fields, farms and hedgerows around us and how to ready ourselves for the next hungry gap with pickles, preserves, ferments and dried foods.