Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Henry Doubleday Research Association


The Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) began in 1954 as a result of the inspiration and initiative of one man, Lawrence Hills.

 


As an horticulturalist he had a keen interest in organic growing, but he earned his living as a freelance journalist writing forThe ObserverPunch and The Countryman. Whilst researching a book called Russian Comfrey, he discovered that the plant grown widely in Britain today was introduced in the nineteenth century by a Quaker smallholder named Henry Doubleday

     

 When Doubleday came across comfrey he was so intrigued by its possibilities as a useful crop that he devoted the rest of his life to popularising it. Hills took up his crusade and before long requests were coming from far and wide for plants and additional information.

Eventually Hills was able to raise £300 to rent an acre of land at Bocking, near Braintree in Essex, and he began to experiment with comfrey. By 1958 the enterprise had reached a point where it had to become official or be dropped altogether So he decided to set up a charitable research association to study the uses of comfrey and - more significantly - to improve ways of growing plants organically. He named the association after his pioneering Victorian mentor.

Membership application

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