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August 13, 2014

From raised beds to raised spirits

At first glance, it might seem strange that the forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill has such a strong focus on the development of gardening allotments. What, you might ask, has the growing of fruit and veg got to do with the empowerment of communities?  That the answer to this question is not more widely known is the reason why three individuals, who have been instrumental in securing the first piece of allotment legislation in 64 years, are about to publish a book called Raising Spirits – allotments, well-being and community.



Judy Wilkinson

Jenny Mollison, Rona Wilkinson and I (Judy Wilkinson) have written a book about allotments  ‘Raising Spirits – allotments, well-being and community’ as part of the Postcards from Scotland series. These are small books edited by Carol Craig and published by Argyll Publishing and the Centre for Confidence and Well-being.

Our book will be launched at the Trades Hall 85 Glassford St, G1 1UH ( thanks to the Incorporation of Gardeners)  on Tuesday August 26th from 5pm to 7pm.

We wrote the book because we felt there is a need to capture some of the passion we feel for our plots, explain the benefits allotments bring to all kinds of people as well as analyse the issues that we occasionally encounter.

We hope the Book Launch will be a celebration of allotments, give us all an opportunity to talk about our plots and also collect thoughts about the new allotments legislation that has just been introduced into the Scottish Parliament (first new law about allotments for 64 years!!)  This  will have an impact on the future of allotments in Scotland.

The Launch is open to everyone and we would like plot-holders and other interested people to come on 26th August and take the opportunity to net-work and discuss issues, both horticultural and political.

In addition to plot-holders we are hoping that representatives from housing associations, health, community associations etc will come because we want to tie the Launch in with a discussion of the Community Empowerment Bill.  This Bill will replace the current legislation on allotments in Scotland.  It offers the opportunity for a civic debate on well-being and quality of life in which allotments with their social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits are an integral part. The committee on Local Government and Regeneration in the Scottish Parliament has now called for written evidence and posed five questions all of which are relevant to the development of allotments in Scotland. Therefore, as part of this Launch we are asking organisations interested in or involved with communal growing if they would come and discuss the issues as part of the celebration of the publication of our book.

 We do not want to involve anyone in extra work and envisage an informal gathering with information presented on flip charts or posters, creating an environment where people can chat informally about the issues and way forward.

Any advice, help, publicity you can give would be very, very welcome. Please encourage people to come!’