Beware laws if you sell what you grow

“Grow Your Own” is now fashionable because many people eschew supermarket vegetables and fruit as unsatisfactory but one wonders how many people know that laws apply not only to what they produce but also the quantity thereof.

One is allowed to grow for one’s use only – and that, of course of one’s immediate family. If you have a surplus one year you may pass it on to family and friends for free, otherwise rules pertain for, if you “Grow to Supply”, you are then self-employed and land used for business purposes requires a licence.

You cannot describe your produce as organic simply because you yourself have not used chemicals. That requires certification and entails some pretty stringent soil tests. And, Courier readers know all too well the horrors that testing can turn up on seemingly innocuous land.

It means that you should not sell those rhubarb sweets and yellow courgette flans etc, to your local restaurant(s) or, indeed, without having your kitchen checked by the Department of Health and Safety. It’s the least that you, and the restaurants, can do for the trusting diner. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

My grandfather was a market gardener and my uncles were arable farmers so I am aware that stalwarts of their ilk can lose business, as can wholesalers and greengrocers alike, and just because people who are not paying Licences, Income Tax, VAT, Insurances and Salaries etc, are growing to supply and pocketing the profits.

Even though it is not against the law, blocks of fruit and vegetables in private gardens should be so. I am a cottage garden aficionado whereby vegetables are grown among the flowers. Is there anything worse than blocks of barren land through winter and into spring? However, for whatever little hard graft cottage gardening has, I do have recourse to a spouse – my own, I hasten to add.

I firmly believe one should have to register with the council in order to grow one’s own for I never cease to be amazed by those persons who are too arrogant to read even so much as a leaflet or ask advice on the art of growing vegetables and fruit.

The golden rule is always “rotate, rotate, rotate”; but some people will persist in planting blocks of leeks, or such, in the same spot every year, thus lowering the crop’s nutritional value as well as asking for the inevitable crop failure.

An experienced gardener knows that the inconsiderate gardener has impoverished their soil, or someone else’s, and that it can often take years to recover.

Although “Grow Your Own” can be full of pitfalls, I nevertheless know you will enjoy those well looked-after crops that you take pleasure in putting on your plate thanks to your own hard work.

Therefore, happy, legal and well-informed gardening.

Linda Gelderd

Glen View

Hebden Bridge