The First World War may have been the first industrialised war, but a key problem was as old warfare itself – food. Though much of the civilian population in parts of northern France and Belgium had been evacuated, they were replaced with a couple of million of extra mouths, both human and animal. Food processing on an industrial scale enabled armies to subsist on tinned food to varying degrees; but its monotony and nutritional value often led to poor health. Fresh food was needed.
Military facilities such as training camps, convalescent depots and airfields across the UK and France often had large areas of unused ground, which was soon put under cultivation. As well as providing much-needed fresh food to supplement tinned rations, these fields also provided a valuable distraction for idle or recuperating hands.