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March 9, 2011

Grow your own goes mainstream

The community sector has an active interest in most areas of Government policy. In drafting Scotland’s first National Food and Drink Policy, the Minister, Roseanna Cunningham was keen to include a section reflecting the recent surge of  interest in growing your own food and community horticulture more generally. The report of the Grow Your Own Working Group is now out with recommendations that are both wide ranging and far reaching.  Just one of the many challenges that awaits whoever wins the May elections


The Grow your Own Working Group Report  (for full report click here) was sent to the Minister Roseanna Cunningham on February 14th . The members of the Working Group trust that she will endorse their recommendations.


The Working Group was set up by the Scottish Government to take forward that part of the  Food and Drink Policy relating to growing your own food. 

* Ensure that allotments and “grow your own” projects are strategically supported. 

* Produce practical advice and best practice guidance that will appeal to public bodies, communities and individuals to help them develop local “grow your own” initiatives . 


The Working group had a strong input from  community growing initiatives – allotments, community gardens and orchards, together with involvement from the public agencies, local government, NGOs and the private sector.  The report reflects the interests and concerns of a wide range of organisations. The initial remit of the working group was to produce the Report but the members have agreed to continue meeting to work on implementing the recommendations of the Report.


Recommendations from the working group


1 A Planning Conference to be staged involving senior planners from

Government, Local Authorities and Health Boards jointly with the

professional bodies to produce improved policies and guidance for GYO


2. Identify best practice food growing policies and practice from local authority

Open Space Strategies, and use this to encourage other local authorities to

support the protection of existing and establishment of new allotments and

community food growing projects.

3. The Working Group and all members to feed into consultation on Permitted

Development Rights (due spring 2011).

4. Promote the benefits of Grow Your Own to planning authorities, making them

aware of the need to identify locations and encourage their establishment to

meet community demand for growing spaces.

5. On land scheduled for development but delayed, planning policies to

dictate the “meanwhile use” of the land.

6. Local Authorities to use Section 75 Planning Agreements to support GYO



7. An amendment to the Allotments Act that specifies a timescale for allotment

provision and number of allotments per head of population.

8. A change to Public Finance Manual Rules that allows the Scottish

Government, its agencies, and government-related organisations to

lease or sell land at less than market value for local GYO initiatives.

9. GYO communities to make use of the Freedom of Information facility to ask

Local Authorities how they are dealing with meeting the duties imposed on

them by the Allotments (Scotland) Acts and disseminate this information.


10. Training in horticultural skills should be recognised by an awarding body

where appropriate and such training should be progressive i.e. each course is

certified and builds to higher qualifications.

11. Local Authorities should consider training needs as part of their

Allotment/Growing Space Strategy.

12. To review commonality across education bodies to set standards and offer

similar courses.

13. Bank of information and learning material to be held and managed by a

central organisation linked to the web site.

Community Land

14. The establishment of a community land bank service developed to facilitate

access to land for GYO initiatives and provide specialist support to

landowners and food growers.

15. Government to instruct its agencies, Local Authorities, Health Boards,

government related organisations and other public sector bodies, to examine

their land assets and determine what surplus land will be made available for

local GYO initiatives and to publicise this information.

16. Public bodies to use the Forestry Commission Community Leasing Scheme

as an example of long term leasing of public land and other land for

establishing GYO projects.

17. Every local authority to produce a strategy for community growing that

establishes policy and planning. They will address the need to meet demand

with appropriate supply and agree land and management issues.


18. “Allotments, A Scottish Plotholders Guide” covers the basic culture of

allotment gardening and allotment law. Completed

19. Production of a landowners’ and land users’ guide, including development and

template leases, collating those that are available.

20. Production of a users’ and providers’ good practice guide on design and

development of new and existing allotment sites that links to the improved

planning policies.

21. Production of guidance on understanding soil contamination and how to grow

on contaminated land.

22. Encourage organisations to set up a central web site or develop existing site/s

to collect and disseminate information to the community GYO sector.

23. A travelling seminar to raise awareness at local authority level to identify and

promote the benefits of community growing.


24. Provision of a “Soft Loan” scheme such as a Community Credit Fund for GYO


25. Continual mapping of funding streams to be available on a central site.

26. Request that the administrators of funds are trained and briefed on the

needs and limitations of those applying for funds for GYO projects.

27. Request Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) management board to

consider funding needed (via the CSGN development fund and any future

funds) to deliver the CSGN target of a threefold increase in the area of

growing spaces in the CSGN area



Membership of group

John Beveridge Greenbelt Group Ltd

Peter Duncan Fife Council

Elaine Gibb greenspace scotland

Bill Gray Community Food and Health (Scotland)

Stan Green Growforth Ltd

John Hancox Commonwealth Orchards

Antonia Ineson NHS Lothians

David Jamieson City of Edinburgh Council

Sarah-Jane Laing Scottish Rural Property and Business Association

Eleanor Logan Soil Association and NOURISH

Jenny Mollison Scottish Allotments and Garden Society

Catriona Morrison Scottish Natural Heritage

Helen Pank Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

Julie Proctor greenspace scotland

Heidi Proven Landshare (Keofilms)

Wayne Roberts Elmwood College

Mike Strachan Forestry Commission

Scott Walker National Farmers Union Scotland

Judy Wilkinson Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society

David Wood Planning Aid Scotland

Peter Wright Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society