The above image featured on a postcard posted in Leven in 1910. It is thought to show a horticultural show held in the vicinity. One of the regular entrants in the shows run by the Leven Horticultural Society was James (Jimmie) Brown of Hatton Law, market gardener and owner of the fruit and flower shop on Emsdorf Street, Lundin Links. Over many years, his name featured in the list of prize winners in the local press. For example, in the late 1890s and early 1900s he won prizes in the following categories: pot plants, cut flowers, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beets, peas, onions, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, marrow, shallots, grapes, apples, gooseberries and redcurrants.
The list gives an insight to the types of produce that he would have sold from his mobile hut and later from his shop. There must have been a wonderful range of fresh, local, seasonal produce available to local people. James Brown came from a green-fingered family. His father was John Brown (1820-1909) who was born at Blindwells (just to the north of Largo House), son of Braidwood Clark and Andrew Brown (a ploughman). In 1841, John was working as a linen handloom weaver and living with his parents at Largo Home Farm, where his father was an agricultural labourer.
By 1851, John had moved to Lundin Mill, married Alison Kellock (of the Kellock family who had the saw mill at Hatton Law) and had four children. He was now a garden labourer. A decade later, the family, now with six children, were living in the Gardener's Cottage at Lathallan House (picture below) where John was the head gardener. The family returned to Largo the following year and James (Jimmie) was born in 1862. The family lived in 'the dip' at Largo Road, close to the Keilside bakery. John rented the nursery at Hatton Law from his mother-in-law Christian Kellock (and later from brother-in-law Robert Wood Kellock after her death).
By 1881, John had been joined by his son James, working as the tenant of the nursery / market garden at Hatton Law (an area once known as Hunger-em-out). However, when Robert Kellock died in 1887, John Brown became owner of both the nursery at Hatton Law and one of the cottages there, known as 'Rosebank Cottage'. The family moved out there from Lundin Mill and by the time of the 1891 census, 70-year-old widower John Brown was living at Rosebank Cottage with daughters Isabella and Violet, granddaughter Violet Alice and son James. The same household was recorded in 1901. John Brown died in 1909 aged 89, after a long life working outside in the fresh air. The map below shows the close proximity of the various places where John Brown lived in his life - Blindwells (upper right), Largo Home Farm (centre right), Lundin Mill (at foot of map) and Hatton Law (upper left). He only left Largo Parish for a brief spell to work at Lathallan, near Largoward.
John Brown's son James continued the market garden and continued to exhibit his produce at horticultural shows. He was also on the committee of the East Fife Chrysanthemum Society, which also held shows over many years. His sister Violet, and his niece Alice , worked alongside him as fruiterers and shopkeepers. Below are a couple of examples of adverts placed in the Leven Advertiser for seasonal help with their business. Note that before the family occupied the Emsdorf Street shop, Violet Brown had a fruit outlet at Leven Links. Violet Brown, Alice's mother, died in 1931 aged 71.
As Jimmie got older, much of the produce for the Emsdorf Street shop was supplied by Peter Keay, gardener at Largo House (until his death in 1942). When Jimmie died in 1943, aged, 81, Alice was left to run the shop alone, 40 years after its 1903 opening. Locals recall that in the final years of the shop, which continued into the 1950s, there was only a small range of produce on offer. Below is the notice that Alice placed in the 9 June 1943 Leven Mail to acknowledge support that she received from the community at that time of her bereavement. Also below is the executry notice that appeared in the 23 June Leven Mail. Violet Alice Brown herself died in 1976, aged 88.