Crops Flout Political Correctness at Chiswick House

Tobacco plants spark children's curiosity in historical Kitchen Gardens

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Chiswick House Kitchen Garden produced a bumper crop of tobacco leaves this summer, grown from seeds originally purchased at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Karen Liebreich, Chiswick House Kitchen Garden Association, said, “Obviously we told the kids they’d be really stupid to start smoking, but we were all curious to see what the plant looked like and whether we could produce anything worthwhile.”

The plants grew to about 5 foot tall, lots of leaf with not much flower, and a few bunches of leaves were then dried in one of the greenhouses.

A ceremonial smoke-in was held earlier this week by kitchen gardeners Alan Wadner and Paul Kriwaczek. The pair shredded a couple of leaves, loaded their pipes and sat back to enjoy a few puffs. “It’s not bad,” said Alan, “especially after a few hours heavy garden work.” But when pressed he admitted he wouldn’t be changing from his regular tobacco. “It is a bit rough,” he admitted. “So no, I won’t be changing from my regular stuff.”

“It’s not our usual healthy kind of crop,” points out Karen Liebreich. “We do make sure we tell the kids that they’ll probably get some horrible cancer if they smoke.”

A new law recently raised the legal minimum age to purchase tobacco from 16 to 18.

January 26, 2007