Last week I was at the Botanic Gardens supporting Scottish Orchards.
The organisation held an all-day event looking at orchard initiatives from across the country including community groups, schools and businesses.
The focus of the event was ‘Orchards for the 21st Century’ and looked at how we can create the right conditions to encourage more and more people to grow their own food.
During the event I addressed the attendees, speaking about how they can lobby their local councillors to highlight their work and promote grow your own.
Edinburgh Council is doing good work in this area through their allotment strategy. NHS Lothian has also supported grow your own initiatives to promote better physical and mental health.
In recent years, demand for allotment space has vastly outstripped supply as people become more aware of the health and social benefits of grow your own.
The Council is committed to increasing provision of land for allotments, looking particularly at unused land and vacant development sites.
In addition, the council is keen to provide better support in terms of advice and facilities to help interested groups to become established.
These themes tie in at a national level too. The Scottish Government’s national food and drink policy contains a commitment to supporting grow your own. A new website was recently launched supporting this aim.
I am pleased to be able to support the work of Scottish Orchards both through events like the one this month and the annual Holyrood Apple Day which highlights the issue in Parliament.