Friday, 26 February 2010

Does one laugh or cry?

A most extraordinary letter appeared in this week's Ely Weekly News. I have no acquaintance with the author, but here is the letter:                                          

"Trust to create 1,000 allotments

Sir, I do hope that the people who so loudly condemn the National Trust for planning to return land that was once wetland to its original state at Wicken Fen have noted that last week the trust announced its intention of leaving over enough land in estates it owns to create 1,000 allotments by 2010.

Two of these allotments areas are in Cambridgeshire at Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Hall.

The one at Wimpole Hall will be "community supported" which will mean that those people who would like to grow their own but may not physically be able to, will be able to work the allotments through a manager.

This seems a very good way to encourage a lot of people to improve their diet, health and psychological well-being by growing their own food and in doing so, connecting with the natural cycle of the growers' year.

Not only will these people discover the satisfaction of eating their own produce but it will inevitably lead to them becoming more discerning in their choice of food.

Meanwhile, Wicken Fen can help restore some of the real character of the area on a larger scale, and with it will come more wildlife.

Mr Woollard talks of flies, but if we have more predators on flies nesting on the land in the increased reed beds, it will soon be full of bird life to deal with those flies.

Hilary van de Watering
St. Mary's Street

As my readers might guess, I could not nor would not let the letter go unanswered, so here is my reply:

"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

Dear Editor,

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read Hilary van de Watering's letter. Does she seriously believe that the creation by the National Trust of 1,000 allotments - some of them with 'managers' - will in any sense compensate the country for the lost food production from up to 14,000 acres of our finest Fen farmland? Cornelius Vermuyden must be turning in his grave because of what is going on in our area and because of Ms. van de Watering's musings.

Hilary van de Watering also mentions me in the context of more flies in the Fens following the Trust's so-called 'Wicken Vision' being implemented. It is true that the Trust has admitted almost jokingly that we will get more flies but I have to say that those most affected - the residents of the ancient Fen-edge settlements of Wicken, Upware, Burwell, Reach, Swaffham Prior, Swaffham Bulbeck, Lode & Longmeadow, Bottisham, Stow cum Quy, Fen Ditton, Horningsea and Waterbeach - are much more concerned about a further influx of mosquitoes. Maybe Ms. van de Watering doesn't hear, see or feel many of these pests in St. Mary's Street, Ely, and isn't too concerned about them. Others of us are.

The saddest aspect of this on-going argument is the conspicuous silence of Mr James Paice, our present MP. Mr Paice, who is described as 'shadow minister of agriculture,' has had many opportunities to support agriculture and food-growing in our Fens. His being big mates with some of the early supporters of the so-called 'Wicken Vision' may be the reason for his still sitting on the fence. His doing thus is one of the reasons that I am campaigning against him at the General Election. Hilary van de Watering stands for 1,000 'managed' and very probably wet allotments. Nobody knows what Mr Paice stands for. Everybody knows what I stand for. I stand for farming and food production in our fine Fens because our growing population needs feeding and our food hasn't always been available from overseas and may not be in the future. Nothing is certain in this world any more.

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Woollard.
Independent Parliamentary Candidate for South East Cambridgeshire."

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