21 Feb 2013

February 21st

Is old-style self-sufficiency making a come-back? Remember The Good Life? 

With the death of comedian Richard Briars, we recall a British seventies sitcom, The Good Life. I met Richard Briars fifteen years ago when I worked in a tea-room close to his home and mine in Radlet. I found him to be a charming, if reclusive man. The television show, which struck a chord in the seventies, was voted the ninth best of all time by the British public in 2004. See the BBC News item here.
The main character quits his job on his 40th birthday. Frustrated by office life, he decides to live a completely self-sufficient existence with his wife. They transform their suburban garden into an allotment. They make their own electricity and wine and house chickens, pigs, and even a goat in their suburban garden.

 My life took the same turn in the seventies when my ex-husband suffered a nervous breakdown. He left his advertising job and we moved to the small fishing village of Robe, South Australia offered by my father-in-law. Sure enough, my ex found working surrounded by sand dunes gave him the peace he needed to heal. We raised fowl of all types, cared for several colored sheep and sold our vegetable produce and spun wool in our craft shop cum tea-room.

The movement has since gone through an almost thirty year cycle, with a resurgence in recent years.

On facebook, people share photos under the heading, Grow Food Not Lawns. I love seeing the inventive ways people grow produce, sometimes inside greenhouses with walls built from plastic bottles, on windowsills, or outside in old bathtubs.

Earlier precedents had been set before The Good Life became so popular. The Dig for Victory campaign during World War II encouraged the whole country to grow their own food and peaked at nearly one and a half million allotments. This was because of the terrible wartime shortages and naval blockades. 

Nowadays, most suburbs still run allotments where people can grow their vegetables. Part of a field is fenced off down the road from me, set out with rows ready for spring planting. It's a great community activity and worthwhile although there is usually a waiting list for space. 

Growing your own vegetables could be the best way to make ends meet in these times of spiraling food costs.


  1. Interesting post, but without a green thumb and a husband who does not care for veggies, I'm afraid we are far too dependent on processed foods. However, it's a nice idea and glad it works for some folks. Our son is working on that concept - has a small ranch and is slowly gathering animals, prepping a garden,etc.

    1. As we get older, we can no longer attend to a garden--at least that's the case for me. Wish I could though.

  2. I don't think I could be self sufficient. I really need interaction with people from all over. Although, I strive for a laid back life... for years I chased and climbed the ladder. Now I'm never so happy than to be slowly rolling mailbox to mailbox, and coming home to cook dinner.

    Youngest loves growing his own veggies. This year we are doing it entirely in containers, as we get better results.

    1. I'm thinking of using a grow-bag to raise tomatoes this year. Maybe that's the way to go.


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