Asparagus, Market Gardening and Farming

Agriculture was the main occupation of Badsey parishioners for most of its history. The Domesday Book of 1085 tells us that there were 12 villagers (likely to mean households or smallholdings) with 8 ploughs, 4 slaves and one widow living in Badsey. The reference to 8 plough teams implies that arable farming was already well established. At the beginning of the 19th century, the old open field system gave way to a more enclosed landscape which suited the agricultural revolution which was taking place, but changed the landscape irrevocably. The predominant occupation of the 19th century continued to be agriculture. In the 1870s, the great agricultural depression began to hit the country, but for Badsey, this coincided with the advent of market gardening, introducing a new, prosperous chapter for the village.

Two big sales of farmland took place in 1866, which helped the spread of market gardening. The new landowners divided the land into strips which they then let to former farm labourers. These men started market gardening on their own account. By the time that three further sales of farmland took place in the early 1890s, the newly-emerging market gardeners seized the opportunity to buy an acre or two of land. The opening of the railway station in 1884 opened up the markets and the Littleton & Badsey Growers' co-operative was founded in 1908 to assist market gardeners. Badsey and the Vale of Evesham became famous, particularly for the asparagus which was grown here.

The seminal work on market gardening has been written by T C Sparrow in his book, Digging for a Living, Market Gardening in Badsey and Aldington, published by The Badsey Society in 2011 (available at The Spar Shop, Badsey, or by mail order from www.badsey.org.uk/society).

This section covers the following main items: