Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blackberry Picking and the War on Rats

Blackberries [Image source: Wikimedia]

Wednesday 18th September 1918: The Board of Education have agreed to allow school children three half-days every week to go and pick blackberries, which are needed to provide soldiers with jam. The Local Collecting Depot pays three pence per pound, or if they can be taken to an authorised jam manufacturer in five hundredweight lots four and a half pence can be paid – the extra payment is to ensure that fruit is made into jam and not consumed locally. This list of “Don’ts” has been provided to blackberry gatherers:
  • Don’t eat more than you put in the basket; the unpatriotic pickers are known by the colour of their lips.
  • Don’t pick wet berries; they won’t keep, and have lost their flavour.
  • Don’t pick them when red; leave them another day to ripen and sweeten.
  • Don’t break down hedges, or make gaps for the cattle to stray through.
  • Don’t trespass; the farmer will give you permission if you explain that the fruit is to make jam for the soldiers.
  • Don’t leave the gates open after you.
  • Don’t delay in taking them to the Local Collecting Depot while they are fresh.
  • Don’t make blackberry jelly; it is wasteful.

 Meanwhile war has been declared on the rats which are causing enormous destruction of food. The Joint Agricultural Advisory Committee has urged farmers to take the matter seriously – rats multiply so quickly that a single pair can have a thousand descendants in a year, and it is believed there are nearly as many rats as human beings in Great Britain. Apart from the risk to food supplies, rats are also a danger to public health. Every farmer must do all in his power to keep numbers down!

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 13th September 1918

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