In spring and summer 1917 the naval blockade of Britain
by the Germans was at its height and many ships were lost
with their cargo, much of it imported food. Food production
from British farms had also decreased since the start of
the War due to the loss of labourers to war and to factories
and to the loss of horse power as horses were requisitioned
for war. This led to a crisis in the food supply with Britain
close to running out of food.
To increase labour on farms the Women's Land Army was
created in 1917 but although useful propaganda relatively
few women joined, mostly urban girls with little experience.
Most of the women working on the land were rural women
who had always worked on the land and were organised by
the Women's Food Production League or the Women's War Agricultural
Committee. Labour was also provided by the Labour Corps
of soldiers injured in the war and unfit for fighting but
capable of farm work, as well as German prisoners of war.
In spring 1917 there was a campaign to increase the number
of allotments cultivated and to grow vegetables in gardens,
publicised by vegetables being grown in the garden on No10
by Lloyd George and on gardens in front of Buckingham Palace.
Schools and hospitals were encouraged to grow their own
vegetables. School children also collected blackberries
and other fruit for jams and horse chestnuts to use in
industrial processes instead of grain.