The Society was founded in 1940 as ‘The Village Produce Association’ and was affiliated to the Association of Village Produce Associations. The aims of the Association were to promote the growing of fruit and vegetables and home production of associated foods such as jam, marmalade, pickles, bread, cakes, etc. to assist in the war effort. This would off-set the lack of imported foods owing to the enormous loss of merchant shipping and the reduction of the labour force in the food industry.
Lectures were arranged to educate the members in improved methods of cultivation and food preservation.
The idea of competition among gardeners and housewives (very often the same person!) to encourage more production led to the first Annual Produce Show in 1943. The Association was affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and that Society’s Show Rules have been applied ever since.
The Show was first held in Farmer Norman’s Field (behind the bungalows near the traffic lights in Felpham Way) and continued there for some years after the war until transferring to King George V Playing Field. The Show then developed into a Flower and Produce Show and Fete with a Fun Fair, Sideshows, Stalls and Competitions such as a Fancy Dress Parade and a Dog Show. Children’s Classes for embroidery, needlework, metalwork, woodwork, painting and drawing were also introduced as well as Classes for embroidery, needlework, crochet, knitting, general handicraft, art and flower arranging for adults.
The Show continued in the Playing Field until 1978 when the Society became the Felpham and Middleton Horticultural Society with the Annual Show being held in various venues in Felpham. In 1992 a second Show, the Rose and Sweet Pea Show was introduced as well as two full-day coach outings to well-known gardens and a Ploughman’s Lunch catered for by the Committee. A biennial Members’ Gardens Open afternoon was introduced in 1992. In 2006 half-day outings to various nurseries and NGS gardens were added. The Society continued to expand and a third Show, the Spring Show, was introduced in 2007.
Introduced in 2001, the New Year Lunch held at a local restaurant, ceased in 2017 and was replaced with a Harvest Lunch, catered for by the Committee. The Annual holiday has been abandoned this year after 25 years due to lack of support.
Our Society has celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Diamond Jubilee and 70th Anniversary and has every intention of celebrating its centenary.