13 DECEMBER 1940, Page 16

Ploughing the Commons

It is possible that the demand for an increase in home-grown food will set many parish councils wondering if they can make a contribution by ploughing and cropping the village green, the local recreation ground or any other open space over which they have control. Potatoes will be their obvious thought. Potatoes are an excellent first crop.; they will clean the soil and, on virgin land: may yield as high as ten tons or more per acre. With a controlled price of something like £6 per ton and a yield of ten tons per acre the average village green might therefore be expected to give a crop with a face-value of two or three hundred pounds. Unfortuniitely many commons and village greens are ill-drained or not drained at all, and in a bad summer the potato yield per acre might far, .as low as five tons. Unfortunately too, contrary to popular bald, potatoes need good cultivation, the cost of which may reason ibly be reckoned at £30 an acre. These figures are approximate, ahd may vary from one district to another ; but it is fairly safe to sal' that the average parish council would lose money on its farming adventure. Moreover the figure of 8,000,000 acres of derelict Enslish farming land, to which I referred earlier this year, has not sa 1. I think, been significantly reduced, and I shall leave readers to work out for themselves what the potato tonnage for even part of that enormous acreage could be.