History

Garden Organic Logo

Garden Organic is the working name
of the Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA).

Originally, before the HDRA, founded by horticulturist and journalist Lawrence D Hills, changed it’s working name to ‘Garden Organic’ in 2005, our group was called ‘The Henry Doubleday Research Association Hampshire Branch’. When it was established 36 years ago in June 1976 it was the first ever HDRA local group. It was set up by Alec and Doreen Wright, an inspirational couple, who farmed organically at Larkbarrow Farm, outside Whitchurch. The aim was to publicise and promote organic gardening, farming and food, and to complement locally in Hampshire the work the HDRA were doing nationally.

An active and successful group was soon established under the leadership of the Wrights and quickly embarked on an ambitious programme aimed at reaching out to the general public and stimulating their interest in producing healthy food sustainably. This programme included arranging monthly talks covering a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from wildlife, conservation and the environment as well as organics. A quarterly magazine, ‘The Compost Box’ , was set up (and is still produced today), and featured many contributions from members.

Very successful themed all day conferences were arranged and held annually in Whitchurch, and each had four speakers who covered different aspects of that year’s theme. A wholefood lunch was provided and exhibitions and displays were set up. The speakers were often well known and included Lawrence and Cherry Hills, and Helen Browning, current Soil Association Director. These conferences were intended to be challenging and thought provoking, and were well attended – topics included ‘ Biodiversity – the importance of the gene pool’, and ‘Your food and your environment’.

In 1990 the group was honoured to be asked to host the HDRA AGM, the first time this had been done by a local branch, and successfully catered for 300 visitors in providing lunch as well as coffee and tea refreshments.

The group took stands to various Agricultural Shows and other venues in the county. One year we had a stand in the Close at Winchester Cathedral.

Many visits are undertaken by the group including two to Highgrove.

After the HDRA changed it’s name, the group has changed it’s name to Hampshire Organic Gardening Group (HOGG) and was set up as a registered charity.