From cupcakes to cucumbers: BBC moves from Bake Off to Allotment Challenge

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The credit crisis has triggered a resurgence in the number of Britons growing their own food
 Photo: ALAMY

Gardening will be getting the ‘Great British Bake Off’ treatment next year as
the BBC launches a new competition to find the nation’s best growers.

A six-part series fronted by Fern Britton will build on the tradition of the
annual horticultural show, and the infamous contests for the best chutneys
and jams, by putting nine pairs of passionate gardeners to the test.

The green-fingered contestants will be asked to harvest crops of prized
vegetables and fruits in a walled garden on the Mapledurham estate in
Oxfordshire, having planned, planted and nutured their allotments.

Each episode the team that fails to impress will be asked to hang up their
gardening gloves for good.

BBC hopes the series, called Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge,
can do for cabbages and cucumbers what the Great British Bake Off did for
pies and pastries.

Inspired by Mary Berry, sales of home baking kits from whisks to cup cake
stands have gone through the roof in stores such as John Lewis and Lakeland.

Emma Wills, commissioning executive documentaries, said: “This fantastic new
series will tap into the wave of public interest in growing your own and
home crafts from chutney making to floral arrangements.

“With the cost of living continuing to rise, it’s the perfect time to make the
most of our gardens and allotments and get growing with a purpose.

The credit crisis triggered a resurgence in the number of people looking to
copy the characters Tom and Barbara from BBC classic The Good Life, and take
up a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Last month it emerged that thousands of people who want to grow their own food
may have to wait nine years for a space at the local allotment.

Matthew Appleby, author of the Allotment Planner, said James Buttress, a Royal
Horticultural Society judge, cast as te Paul Hollywood-type judge, could
turn out to be the star of the show.

He added: “The BBC has spent lots of mopney setting this up but the difficulty
with the concept is that while you can bake somethng in an hour or two, with
gardening it takes weeks to grow anything.

“It’s a big hope for everybody in the industry that this is going to make a
garden boom time again in the same way Alan Titchmarsh’s show Ground Force
did some years ago.”

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