1000 piece jigsaw based on the wartime poster MAF 217/5 held in the collection of The National Archives. A fiendishly difficult puzzle with a sense of history.
During the Second World War feeding the country and the health of the nation were key concerns for the government. Propaganda encouraged the public to change their eating habits and in 1940 rationing was introduced.
Fruit and vegetables were never rationed despite many varieties being in short supply as enemy blockades of shipping lines made it increasingly difficult to transport food to Britain. The solution was to ask the country to “Dig for Victory”.
This campaign by the government was simple yet effective. Posters and leaflets encouraged families to grow their own food, and public spaces such as parks were turned into allotments.
The aim wasn’t just to get people growing; the government wanted to ensure a successful crop. Posters like this one were produced to advise novice gardeners on crop rotation and planting schemes.
On closer inspection some details jump out, firstly the size of the plot – this plan is for a space 90 x 30 feet (or roughly 27 x 9 metres). For many this would have been a large plot to maintain, and likely bigger than their gardens. Helpfully the government also produced leaflets on how to plant smaller plots; these were often marketed towards women and children. The units of measurement are also interesting. The plan is for an area equivalent to 10 squared rods, poles or perches. These units are no longer used today, aside from when talking about allotments.
We can also see from the very bottom that this poster was part of a set of resources that would-be gardeners could obtain from the government. The campaign offered the public a high level of support and encouragement to grow their own fruit and vegetables, which ultimately paid off. By 1943 it was estimated that 3.5 million allotments had been created.
Finished size 690 x 480mm