Community food growing booming finds Local Action on Food report

A new report 'A Growing Trade' produced by Local Action on Food said UK community food projects are thriving and increasingly operating along commercial lines.

Examples include the first Aquaponics Greenhouse in Scotland which produces fish and salads, and Hackney Grown herbs sold to high-end restaurants.
 
Polly Higginson, Local Action on Food officer and author of the report said:

"There has been a real change in attitude in the community food sector towards how they see their projects. 

"Making money is important, and gives a sense of pride and value to what people are doing.  Trading is a good opportunity to generate income to contribute towards project costs and to lift the ambitions of the people involved."
   
More than 1,500 new community food growing spaces have been set up in London alone since 2008 through London Food Link’s Capital Growth project.  A number of groups running these spaces are now exploring how, by selling their produce, they can replace funding for their community work which has dried up due to government spending cuts. Capital Growth is helping link suitable growing spaces with restaurants and market stalls and is running an event on 17 January to link London’s caterers and food growers preparing for the 2012 growing season.
 
Kate De Syllas, from Wenlock Herb Garden in Hackney, one of the Capital Growth spaces featured in the report, added:

"If we want to grow food in the city, it is all very well to have an easy going, community group, with a cosy attitude to it, but if gardens are to remain open and growing and the urban agriculture issues are to get any place on the government’s agenda then we need to get a bit more hard nosed about it."
 
Higginson added: "Although community food growing has come a long way there are still many challenges, particularly access to land, and developing the marketing skills of the community growers. Food growing is hard work, but there are opportunities for young entrepreneurs to earn some money if they’re prepared to get their hands dirty."
 
Download the report - A Growing Trade -  at http://www.sustainweb.org/publications/?id=201


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