New Government guide tells locals how to take over land for food growing

A new how-to guide to help communities spot plots of disused green space for food growing has been published by the Government.

The guide, Space for food growing, advises communities on new ways to gain access to less conventional sources of land and green space to grow food as well as suggestions for wider community involvement and tips on how to get funding.

For example, the 14-page guide suggests tapping up the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens or Landshare, set up to match up people with garden-share schemes, as alternatives to joining allotment waiting lists, which can run for years.

"A recent survey revealed nearly two thirds of adults want to grow their own food," said a spokeswoman. "But it is increasingly difficult as local authority allotments are oversubscribed, with waiting lists over ten times longer than those in 1996."

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: "With so many people looking to grow their own food there are tips to help people look outside the allotment and spot a plot in more unconventional places to start community gardens.

"Our Localism Act powers can help all those with budding green fingers to find a way to grow a bumper crop for their family, win at the summer fete or create new community gardens up and down the country."

Environment secretary, Caroline Spelman said: "This will allow communities to transform local spaces and grow their own fruit and veg. I hope people all over the country will be inspired to get outside and get planting."

The Government highlighted existing projects including the Ebury Bridge Gardening Club in Pimlico, London where residents rejuvenated a disused, run-down area into an award-winning community garden for the local community.

Leaders at Arkwright Meadows Community Gardens in Nottingham used Big Lottery funds to turn a disused playing field into mini-plots for locals to grow food, run after-school gardening clubs, and create a garden with raised beds made of tractor tyres.

An RHS spokeswoman said: "With more than 5,000 groups involved in RHS community gardening campaigns, we welcome any steps to help local people transform disused spaces."

A Groundwork UK spokesman said: "We have been supporting communities to improve their local environment for 30 years. We know more people want to get active and grow and welcome the additional support and guidance being provided."

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