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April 23, 2008

Network of community gardeners set for growth

Community gardens and city farms across Scotland should feel the benefit of a recent £0.5m award from The Big Lottery. Currently around 350 community gardens of one sort or another exist across Scotland. This is a growing network that we can expect to hear a lot more from

What is a community garden ? Community gardens and farms are community-managed projects working with people, animals and plants. They range from tiny wildlife gardens to fruit and vegetable plots on housing estates, from community polytunnels to large city farms.

City farms and community gardens are often developed by local people in a voluntary capacity, and commonly retain a strong degree of volunteer involvement. Some larger community farms and gardens employ many workers whilst others are run solely by small groups of dedicated volunteers. Most are run by a management committee of local people and some are run as partnerships with local authorities, whilst retaining strong local involvement.

Most projects provide food-growing activities, training courses, school visits, community allotments and community businesses. In addition, some provide play facilities and sports facilities, and after school and holiday schemes.

What’s the BIG Lottery doing to help? Community Gardeners across Scotland are set to benefit from a spring lottery windfall after the Big Lottery Fund announced a grant of nearly half a million pounds to the Growing Communities in Scotland partnership. Included in the partnership is the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), the Scottish Therapeutic Gardening Network (Trellis) and the Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI). The lottery funding will help the partners continue their work with the blossoming Scottish community garden and allotment network. At least 350 community, therapeutic and allotment gardens across Scotland will benefit from improved and comprehensive support services.

Alison Magee, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland Committee, said: “The grant shows the Big Lottery Fund’s commitment to helping improve the capacity and infrastructure of intermediary organisations.

“This grant to the Growing Communities in Scotland partnership will allow this network to flourish, it will enable the sector to develop a single voice and in turn it will become more effective in raising the profile and recognition of the powerful benefits that gardening and the outdoors can have for marginal groups.”

Jeremy Iles, Director of FCFCG, welcomed the grant. He said: “Every gardener knows that the only way to ensure their crop can thrive is to strengthen the soil and roots.

“This funding does exactly that for our network and in turn will allow us to help all those in community, therapeutic and allotment gardens to develop their work, and support those who come in and tend their gardens: we expect to see a growth in the movement and now we are better placed to support it.”