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50 or 60 years ago the market for organic food (as now defined) was vanishingly small, less than 0.1 per cent of the market in European countries, according to one estimate.(1) Organic farming at that time was derided by most farmers in the UK as a matter of ‘muck [i.e.farmyard manure] and mystery’.
Grootplaas, a produce farm that specialises in citrus and numbers around 900 hectares in size, is the subject of Maxim Bolt’s latest monograph, Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.
How fortunate are historians of that broad band of southern Somerset covered by seven topographical volumes of the Victoria County History (VCH) compared with those of most of the historic county for whom no such resource yet exists. It is the distant ideal of the complete set for Somerset that is most urgently required.
People must eat, even during wartime, preferably three times a day, civilians and soldiers, and of course children.
When comparing European agriculture in the early 1960s with that existing before the First World War, two principal differences are evident. Firstly, the productivity of agriculture in the 1960s was considerably higher, principally as the consequence of the intensive use of modern technologies such as modern machinery, fertilisers, pesticides or hybrid seeds.
The Land Question in Britain, 1750–1950, is that rare collection of essays which is more than the sum of its parts; 14 essays by different authors, all of which connect with each other to reveal a hidden picture of a topic that has inexplicably dropped from view.
The request to review Professor James Vernon’s book brings to mind John Betjeman’s verses in the style of George R. Sims:
While Perry Willson’s previous book, The Clockwork Factory: Women and Work in Fascist Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) focused on urban, working-class women in the ventennio, her current publication turns to the countryside to study the history of housewives and farmwomen who were associated with the Fascist organisation, Massaie Rurali. Both of