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Allotment gardeners dig deep for VE Day celebrations

Harrogate Spring Flower Show (23 – 26 April 2015) will step back to the days of dolly tubs and ration books in a special tribute to the Dig for Victory campaign that mobilised an army of grow your own gardeners.

As part of the celebrations for this year’s 70th anniversary of VE Day, a Victory Allotment is being prepared for display at the show by members of the Leeds and District Gardeners’ Federation.

Complete with Anderson shelter, dolly tubs, rabbit run, and poultry ark, the allotment will capture an era that saw allotments spring up on every spare patch of land, including public parks, school playing fields and even the Tower of London.

An estimated 3 million tons of food was produced by 1.5 million allotment holders, who were charged with the task of saving Britain from starvation by the Government’s 1940 Dig for Victory campaign.

In addition to scouring attics and garden sheds for original World War II artefacts, members of the federation have also researched the type of plants grown during the war, to ensure an authentic atmosphere for their 12m x 8m allotment.

Show Director Nick Smith said: “The Dig for Victory Campaign inspired generations of grow your own gardeners and was a crucial part of the home front war effort, producing around 10% of the UK’s food.

“The team from Leeds Allotment Federation is doing a fantastic job in re-creating an authentic World War II plot celebrating both the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe and the achievement of millions of gardeners, who helped to feed the country during the conflict.”

Other VE Day celebrations at the spring show include spectacular plant nursery displays with the theme This is your hour, paying tribute to the victory speech made on 8 May 1945 by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Local schoolchildren will also be exhibiting their work as part of a challenge to choose a ration book recipe and grow the produce needed to make the dish.

Staged at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the first major event in the gardening calendar, welcoming the new growing season with a spectacular celebration of the very best in horticulture.

It has been rated Britain’s best gardening event by Which? Gardening and features stunning show gardens, 100 top UK plant nurseries, four live demonstration theatres and over 300 garden shopping, craft, gift, regional food and specialist society stands.

Tickets: Thurs, Fri, Sat £15.50 when purchased before 14 April; £18.00 on the gate. Sun £16.00 on the gate or £13.50 in advance. Under 16s go FREE when accompanied by an adult.  Book on line at or call 01423 546157.

Editors notes:

1. Harrogate Flower Shows are organised and run by the North of England Horticultural Society, a charity set up over 100 years ago to promote horticulture across the north. Profits from the spring and autumn events are returned to the charity to support a range of community and educational projects.

2. The Leeds and District Allotment Gardeners’ Federation is the voice for allotment and leisure gardeners in the greater Leeds area. It represents about fifty local, self-governing allotment sites and also has members from local authority sites.