Room to grow for communities

Community food growing at Transition Town Forres

More than 80 new community food growing sites have been identified in Moray.

As part of Moray Council’s food growing strategy, unanimously approved by councillors last week and to be put to public consultation shortly, potential sites have been highlighted in: Aberlour, Archiestown, Buckie, Cullen, Craigellachie, Dufftown, Elgin, Fochabers, Findhorn, Forres, Hopeman, Keith, Lhanbryde, Lossiemouth, Mosstodloch, Portgordon, Portknockie, Rothes and Tomintoul.

The food growing strategy, prepared by Moray Council in partnership with NHS Grampian, Moray College UHI, Greenfingers, Moray Food Plus, REAP and Elgin Allotment Association, aims to increase the number of good growing areas across Moray. It has identified land potentially suitable for allotments, community orchards, community gardens, vegetable patches, raised beds, planters and edible hedges.

The strategy recognises that supporting communities to develop the skills to grow their own good and make healthy lifestyle choices is essential. Once the strategy has been adopted, it will used in the planning process when agreeing or refusing planning applications.

There are successful food growing and community gardening projects already under way in a number of areas of Moray, and the Council hopes this strategy will help expand these into a Moray-wide offering, so that all communities have the chance to take part.

Convener of Moray Council, Cllr Shona Morrison, backs the strategy: “Anything we can do to improve access to healthy, local, affordable food and reduce food insecurity must be pursued. We can’t do this alone, but by working closely with local partners, we can create opportunities for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables locally.

“This initiative will help to reduce food waste, improve healthy eating choices and social interaction within communities, and support schools and nurseries to create food growing areas, linked to the curriculum.

“There’s evidence that gardening and access to outdoor recreational activities improves physical and mental health, and it’s been suggested that it could be a cost-effective health intervention to help address mental ill-health, dementia, obesity and more.”

Existing community food growing projects in Moray include those run by REAP, http://www.reapscotland.org.uk/, Elgin Allotments Association, https://elginallotments.wordpress.com/ and Transition Town Forres, https://forrescommunitygarden.wordpress.com/home/