CABE scholar claims golf course margins could provide space for growing food

Golf courses could help the drive for urban food production by creating allotments on their margins, according to Lantra and English Heritage botanical and heritage consultant and 2009 CABE scholar Pamela Smith.

Chicago: Jackson park is fringed by allotments Image: Pamela Smith
Chicago: Jackson park is fringed by allotments Image: Pamela Smith

She suggested using golf courses for grow your own at a London Parks & Green Spaces Forum meeting on food growing after seeing the idea in action at Jackson Park in Chicago.

Smith told HW: "We have to be looking for places to grow food and I'm concerned that parks will be the first places looked at - I'm concerned they will lose area. But it doesn't have to be parks. Golf courses have a lot of land around their edges and good security."

Smith travelled to the USA and Canada to look at food growing as part of her work as a CABE scholar. During her travels she discovered the municipal course at Jackson Park, which lets local people "grow food yards away from the greens".

She acknowledged there were issues to do with ownership and access and what to do with the food grown. But she added: "I know that some councils are going to pilot this idea of letting allotments sell surplus product so I don't see why private golf courses couldn't as well.

"It would be interesting to see what golf courses think. You could say it would introduce more people to golf. I'm not saying we are wasting the land - it's just asking how we could do more with it. I do think golf courses have massive potential to contribute to this issue."

British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association communications manager Scott MacCallum said: "It's not something we have heard of but I would imagine with the pressures on land usage, if courses could be made to work harder without compromising the playing surface, it might be something that could work."

He added: "There would be health and safety issues but golf is not exactly flush with funds at the moment so if they can find other revenue streams without compromising their raison d'etre, it's something we would consider."

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