By the last two years of the Great War the German U-Boat offensive was beginning to take effect in Britain and supplies of food were becoming more and more restricted. To counter this drop in imports, the government of the day encouraged as much home production as possible with many areas of previously fallow land being turned over to crops. Although the large centralised system of the Second World War was not adopted to the same degree, local agricultural societies played a large part in encouraging food production. They offered guidance and advice to farmers and ran competitions to encourage food production. Despite the war ending in 1918, these efforts to increase home production continued into the first few years of peace and tonight we are looking at a certificate from the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society:This certificate was awarded for the production of potatoes in Burnley:The name of the organisation is emblazoned across the top of the certificate, along with the purpose of the award, “for the encouragement of the increased home production of food stuffs”:There was a great emphasis on increasing food production on all forms of land and in March 1919 the Daily Mail ran an article on ‘What a 10-Rod plot Produced’:
That a demonstration plot for object lessons and successional planting and trials of varieties of potatoes and manures should be set aside in each group of allotments has been recommended by the Food Production Department.
The report for last season on the 10-Rod allotment in Kew Gardens shows that the produce raised was: The Soil was a poor gravel, on which several of the crops failed through drought. At wholesale prices the produce was worth £8 15s.
The date of the competition is 1919 and this is apparently a ‘special victory diploma’:The design of the certificate incorporates two illustrated panels, one of farming:And a second depicting soldiers advancing across no-man’s land:This certificate is both large and beautifully engraved and is a rare survivor today. Interestingly the piece of scrap card it is mounted on is as of much interest as the certificate itself and we will look at the reverse in an upcoming post!