Brilliant harvest managers: The WI centenary
It may be disappointing to have suffered another wet and dismal August Bank Holiday, but the recent rain does mean that some of the vegetables and fruit in the Genus garden have begun to crop even more heavily. The plums have swollen to more than double the size they were a fortnight ago and the beans and courgettes have become rampant.
Wondering what on earth to do with the extra harvest we thought the Women’s Institute, the WI, might have some ideas. It is after all the WI centenary in a couple of weeks so they have had enough time to get pretty practiced! The first WI meeting in the UK was held in Llanfairpwll on Anglesey, Wales, on 16 September 1915. Since then, the organisation has grown to become the largest women's voluntary organisation in the UK with over 212,000 members in 6,600 WI groups. Apart from cake and pastry baking, the preserving of produce has become one of the things the WI is famed for. The WI was first established to educate rural women, and to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation. The task of food preservation was taken a stage further when during 1939-1941, the WI’s Produce Guild was issued with sugar and cans by the government to ensure any surplus harvest was preserved and channeled into the nation’s food supply. The radical campaigning tradition of the WI carries on through it’s work today looking at issues such as the sustainability of food production, saving bees, and the promotion of healthy eating.