11 July 2013
As an avid, not always successful, gardener and the tenant of an allotment on the slopes of Dundee Law, I more than welcome the Labour Party’s vision to plant fruit trees and vegetable patches in school grounds and encourage allotment gardening en masse.
Mary Creagh the Shadow Environment Secretary in the UK Parliament has unveiled plans to promote a more hands on approach whereby schools, local authorities and allotment associations work more closely to provide and maintain areas where healthy sustainable food can be produced.
Due to draconian cuts in welfare introduced by the Con-Dem coalition, the country’s poorest are suffering from a nutrition recession. (Link)
Hard strapped families are opting for the cheapest option on their weekly shopping lists.
This often results in frozen processed foods which are high in sugar, fats and salts.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are often neglected by households who have extremely tight or limited budgets.
Creagh suggested that ensuring high-quality food for schools must be one of the highest priorities:
"We know how much of a difference this makes, so we should be taking steps to do something about it."
Creagh’s enthusiasm for the project exposes the contempt from the Con-Dem coalition toward the UK’s less well off.
In the spring of 2011 the Communities Secretary in England Eric Pickles drew up plans to sell off 300,000 of the country’s council-run allotments and made attempts to put an end to historic agreements between plot holders and local authorities.
Pickles’ ill-thought out proposal came at a time when allotment waiting lists were (still are) at an all time high, with individuals having to wait up to ten years before securing a plot.
Judging by the obvious interest, self-produced sustainable food is clearly an attractive option, not to mention an extremely wise one considering the global food crisis being predicted by academics and scientists. (Link)
Two years in from Pickles’ plan the Con-Dem cuts are biting and biting hard.
Growing your own would appear to be a sensible and viable option.
Tending a garden, a small vegetable patch or indeed an allotment has many benefits other than simply producing food.
Gardening can be an extremely therapeutic stress buster, it can offer a means of education, which could benefit school kids who are drawn toward a more practical vocation rather than an academic one and it (community garden) can become part of any regeneration project which is focused on rebuilding communities and ending social exclusion.
Let’s take this message of self-sustainability to our schools, to our council officers and to our community groups.
And let’s get the country gardening.
Grow Your Own Scotland on its website has advice and information on how to establish a successful community garden
Click on to the image below to visit their website