Allotments and Requisitioned Land in WW1

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

As the First World War progressed, food shortages became more acute. The impact of German U-boat attacks was felt through the reduced food imports, which meant that production at home had to increase, despite the labour shortages caused by the war. A poor harvest in 1916 made the problem even worse.


Regional War Agricultural Committees were responsible for ensuring that all available land was placed under cultivation. They were given powers to take court proceedings against farmers who left fields empty of crops and could also requisition land for use as allotments. 

The War Agricultural Committee practised what it preached: in 1917 a pristine bowling green outside the officers’ mess at Beverley Barracks was turned over for cultivation, first of hay and then of potatoes.


In early 1918 rationing was introduced as a means of ensuring that the food available was shared equally.  

Curriculum links:

KS3/4 History – World War One

KS3/4 Citizenship – dealing with conflict, types of conflict

Learning objectives:

Knowledge about the difficulties farmers faced in keeping the nation fed during the First World War and how they addressed these problems

Understanding that farmers and agricultural workers played an important role on the Home Front

Skills in analysing and interpreting historical evidence


Discussion ideas:

  • Why do you think allotments were seen as a solution to food shortages?

  • Read the War Agricultural Committee minutes (see Downloads link below). What other measures did the committee take to encourage the production of food?


Agriculture - farming; production of livestock or crops
Allotments - a plot of land rented out for gardening or farming
Court proceedings - carrying out an action of law against someone
Cultivation - working the land to raise crops or livestock
Pristine - pure, in very good condition
Requisition - an official demand or order to do something

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