The Great Yorkshire Show – England’s biggest agricultural show – conjures up images of massive agricultural machinery and herds of show cows in a sea of wax jackets and flat caps… and, well, all of that was there. Though this year, among all of the big farming exhibitions, was a small group of researchers talking about how much people grow at home and on their allotments.
The MYHarvest team was accompanied by other researchers from Sheffield University with interests in sustainable food production to talk to farmers and members of the public about our research and how to get involved. Over 60,000 people flocked to the Yorkshire Event Centre near Harrogate for the three-day show. We didn’t quite manage to talk to everyone, though we certainly got a lot of interest from young and older growers alike!
Just like at the Harrogate Flower Show and BBC Gardeners’ World Live, we we’re pitched up right next to the National Allotment Society, who we’ve been working with since the start to promote the MYHarvest project. Phil Gomersall, the president of the National Allotment Society, was there every day with his characteristic abundant enthusiasm for everything to do with allotments and growing your own food.
As well as talking to people about what they are growing, and how to measure this for MYHarvest, we had several interactive soil activities. People could observe the differences between poor quality soil, and rich, healthy compost crawling with life. Groups of school children in particular loved searching for the soil creatures and looking at them down the microscope we had set up. We also had examples of soil science experiments they could do at home or in school. If you’d like to have a go at any of these DIY soil experiments, see the PDF below for the straight-forward instructions.
We also saw the National Vegetable Society and their competition vegetables demonstrating just how much you can harvest! The Northern Fruit Group were set up just around the corner talking about their home-grown comparative experiment seeing how different mulches affected fruit bush productivity.
For all of those who couldn’t be at the Great Yorkshire Show this year, you can hear the MYHarvest team being interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside, BBC Radio York and BBC Radio Sheffield. We hope to see you there for another great three days next year!