Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Local community gardens gearing up for food growing action

FROM 22nd to the 29th of April, over 100 community growing spaces will open their gates to welcome volunteers, both new and old, to explore ways to get involved in community growing, celebrate the arrival of Spring, and advocate for the protection and expansion of community growing spaces.  

These gardens will invite visitors to meet neighbours, learn new skills, and see how easy it can be to grow your own food. Activities will range from seed swaps and garden tours to school visits, art exhibitions, panel discussions, and film screenings.  

Amidst a landscape fraught with environmental and systemic challenges, community gardens are operating within decidedly precarious conditions. The latest State of UK Nature report reveals alarming statistics, with “no let-up in the decline of our wildlife, with 1 in 6 species at risk of being lost from Great Britain.” [1] According to a study by CPRE, green spaces in poorer parts of England are less likely to be protected against being bulldozed and developed than those in more affluent areas, exacerbating the threat to urban food-growing spaces. [2] 

Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, is using this week to call on councils to protect these assets and increase access to land and other resources for community growing spaces. They are partnering with Incredible Edible’s Right to Grow campaign to advocate for better access to growing spaces, following increasing barriers to land and over 175,000 people in the UK currently on allotment waiting lists. [3] 

“Across the country, the Good to Grow network show us year after year the enduring value of community food growing in protecting local nature, helping to tackle food insecurity and strengthen community bonds. There are so many ways to get involved in your local garden and so many need volunteers to help keep these vital community hubs going. Have a look at our interactive map to see what our amazing gardens have going on in your area during Good to Grow week. ” says Lily O’Mara-Adembesa, Good to Grow coordinator  

“Good to Grow week is an opportunity inspire communities and showcase the social and health benefits of community growing. But those who are inspired to set up new gardens often face serious challenges dealing with red tape and bureaucracy at local authority level. We’re calling for a Right to Grow; a change in local authorities policies to make community growing accessible for many more groups.” says Pru Elliott, Incredible Edible. 

“Good to Grow Week shows off the wide variety of urban food growing spaces and is a great way for people to discover their local community gardens. These are oases from the hustle and bustle where people can grow their own food, connect with nature and their neighbours.  In a time of cost-of-living crisis, political turmoil and the epidemic of loneliness, these gardens are essential spaces for community connection and wellbeing. Yet they are always at threat of development, and the demand for space to grow is on the rise. So we use this week to demonstrate how more than ever, we need these spaces in our communities for people and for wildlife” says Rachel Dring, Capital Growth Coordinator 

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