At the weekend I got the opportunity to address the Scottish Allotment and Gardens Society’s annual conference and spoke about the demand for allotment space in Edinburgh.
Across the city there are 1233 allotment plots but the waiting list is currently at 2367. The dramatic increase in demand for allotments has been driven by a number of factors but one explanation for the recent growth is undoubtedly the rise in food prices.
With research from the British Retail Consortium suggesting that the cost of food has increased by 4.9% in the last year and predictions from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation that people should prepare for a decade of high food prices, it is hardly surprising that more and more people are looking to grow their own.
Allotments are good for our health, good for our environment and good for our communities but across the country demand vastly outstrips supply.
The recommendations of the Grow Your Own Working Group, along with the allotment strategy adopted in Edinburgh, show the way forward and the Scottish Government needs to take the lead, providing guidance to get Scotland growing.
We need to see public bodies like the NHS, and councils providing more land for development into allotments and community garden projects. Initiatives such as the Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens are great examples of how public space can be used for groups and individuals to grow food, develop social inclusiveness and promote health and wellbeing. There’s also the Botanics and the Dean Gallery with their edible gardens.
The Scottish Government has often stated its commitment to ensuring that more allotment space is available and I have lodged Parliamentary Questions to find out precisely what they intend to do to get Scotland growing.