Their prayers were answered by the drive to feed the growing population of baby boomers in the 1950s.
The poppy may have survived the bloodiest conflict in history but was no match for a new generation of chemical herbicides.
It was rediscovered in 1991 near the village of Faceby on the western side of the North York Moors, then disappeared again until found growing in a field of sugar beet at Kirkbymoorside. “We kidnapped that plant, then gave it a paper funnel and managed to persuade it to drop 32 seeds.
Some of our volunteer growers put it in nurseries, where it began to sprout like gooseberry bushes.
Says Chris: “As far as we are concerned now, that plant is completely safe in the wild, and not just in North Yorkshire.
Another notable success has been the corn buttercup (Ranunculus arvensis), also known in farming areas as “devil’s coachwheel”.
“Some people have asked us if we can provide poppies for commemorative services in November, but I had to tell them the flowers will all be dead by then.And so poppies and dozens of other plants which had brought pageants of colour to the British countryside each summer were finally eradicated.Now, though, the deflowering of arable fields is being reversed by a dozen or so Yorkshire farmers taking part in a unique initiative run from a remote corner of the North York Moors National Park.Back home, however, farmers took a less sentimental attitude towards the poppy.
They saw it as nothing more than a weed which reduced the size of their crops, and dearly wished they could get rid of it.Corncockle (Agrostemma githago), for example, is a dramatic pink flower which became virtually extinct in the wild but has been given a new lease of life in the project’s 25-acre show site near the hamlet of Silpho, not far from Scarborough.