History of Little Gaddesden VPA
The history of Little Gaddesden VPA dates from just after the Second World War. It originated, under the name “Gaddesden District Village Produce Association”, in 1948, as did many others. It was an ongoing effort by the Ministry of Agriculture to keep the nation growing much needed food. They encouraged shows to foster competition amongst the growers.
The Talbot Connection
It seems that generations of Little Gaddesden gardeners had always had a competitive streak. The Talbot family set up a flourishing horticultural club as far back as the 1880’s. The Hon. Alfred Talbot, whose sister Adelaide became Countess of Brownlow (of Ashridge), was a keen supporter. Shows were held at Little Gaddesden House, where he lived, and also in the stable block up at Ashridge itself. One of the many books about Little Gaddesden has a charming account by one of our long standing members, May Sears, detailing shows in the 1920’s.
Alfred’s daughter Kathleen was very involved in the “Dig for Victory” campaign. She travelled tirelessly around Britain promoting its cause. Immediately following the war she helped to set up the National Organisation of Village Produce Associations, encouraging the creation of more than 1,000 VPA’s. For all her hard work she was awarded an MBE. On the formation of Little Gaddesden’s VPA she became its very first secretary.
From the 1950’s to Today
Throughout the 1950’s the VPA, with the help of the Royal British Legion and the WI, organised not only the show but also a dance to follow in the evening. Then, as the other organisations fell away, the VPA turned back to just running a village show. So, through the 1960’s and the 1970’s, our Summer Show was the main event. When we added a Winter Show to our calendar, for some time it was the only one in Hertfordshire.
Our shows are still popular in the village and continue to attract a high standard of show entries. So we always hope that the next one will be no exception.
And today, as our VPA Events page shows, we are more than just a ‘show’ society. We hold two plant-related sales during the year: a May Plant and Cake Sale, and an Autumn Bubbles and Bulbs Event. And our ever-popular Autumn Harvest Supper and Quiz is a favourite way to mark the end of the growing year. Meanwhile, the regular Sunday morning opening of the VPA Store provides a continuing social focus, as well as a treasure trove of garden supplies and information for our members.
More details of the VPA today, and information on how to join, are all on our About page.