Monday, 8 September 2014

Allotments, Pumpkins and Food

I was in the allotment the other day harvesting a pumpkin when a man walked by. He was talking on his phone. "I'm going to stay here and do a power hour," he said.

Oh dear. And then I read in the Independent how 'Cultivating vegetables and herbs at home is also just an extension of the modern foodie culture, in which visiting farmers’ markets, home-brewing, and splurging £4.50 on a loaf of artisanal bread is increasingly the norm among urban-dwelling twenty- and thirtysomethings.'

Which is all well and good unless you visit farmers' markets, do home brewing and splurge £4.50 on a loaf of artisanal bread like a tosser (as opposed to do all those things in a not-like-a-tosser way, which is the way most people do them), then it's not all well and good.

In the article there are all these attempts to quantify and rationalise growing things into a little lifestyle box, a box that is detached from everyday existence, a specially designed bijou box with a tasteful typeface and a bow and clasp in nice subdued colours; a lifestyle box where you have a definitive understanding of everything and that expertise is a hallmark of your great taste and connection to the prevailing zeitgeist. It's a kind of being where the natural chaos and confusion of growing things and not knowing what you're doing is removed. But growing things doesn't belong in a lifestyle box - and the very act of placing it in a lifestyle box destroys the point of it all - which is to provide a pleasant outdoor space in which to hang out and grow things, especially if you don't have that much money or a big garden of your own.

So it was a pleasure to review Joachim Brohm's Typology 1979 for Photo-Eye, a series of German allotment pictures. I don't think too many people were doing 'power hours on these sites, or using the allotment as a shortcut to cooldom. Weren't the seventies great! No, actually they were really bad in so many ways, but still I love the pictures. But maybe that's because I'm interested in the subject and care about it.

Joachim Brohm's full site is here.

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