Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dig for Plenty

Back in 1995, having been too mean or too poor to buy the hardback of David Crouch and Colin Ward's The Allotment: its landscape and culture when it first came out, I got fed up with Faber never bringing out the paperback, the hardback being out of print, so rang them up and asked if I could buy the rights to the book. They asked for, I think, £200 and I said yes. Goodness, so that's how you become a publisher. The paperback duly appeared and, in due course, ran to a second edition and many reprints, but became steadily out of date. Even history dates. We kept it in print because there was still a demand, publishing some other allotment books and other books by Colin Ward (and one by David Crouch) along the way. Sales waxed and waned as interest in allotments waxed and waned but over the last period we began to feel a bit uncomfortable keeping it going; the book was, after all, first published in 1988. But there was never an alternative - for us or the public. Now, at last, we've put The Allotment out to grass (as it were) and commissioned Lesley Acton to write a new social history of allotments, called Dig for plenty: a social history of the allotment movement. Lesley's previous books were on ceramics, but she has spent the last five years researching allotments, their social history also being the subject of her Ph.D. There will be a gap, as Lesley's book is not out until 2013, but we can wait. Meantime, Lesley is limbering up with a succession of articles on her blog at

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