Recent public interest in growing your own food, together with more strategic concerns from local and national government regarding food security, has led to increased demand for community growing projects. Growing your own food has a number of benefits: keeping food bills lower; improved freshness and flavour; reduced food miles; increased food security; and the positive role of gardening in reducing stress levels and increasing physical activity.
Increasing awareness means that, in some areas, the amount of land and number of sites available for growing is not keeping up with demand. As part of the 2010 CSGN Baseline research, the CSGN Community Growing Audit recorded the extent of community growing within the CSGN area. The research was published in 2011 and it identified 234 growing projects. The study also highlighted areas which might benefit from new community growing projects.
In 2011, SNH, Scottish Government Food & Drink Division and the CSGN agreed to fund the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) to produce a comprehensive guide to designing and developing new and existing allotments and growing spaces to further encourage activity. This design guide was launched at the SAGS conference in June 2013 and an online document is available. The Grow Your Own Working Group (GYOWG) has also produced a guide to help groups grow food on sites with soil contamination.
The Community Growing in the CSGN area update is available to download which summarises research undertaken by the CSGNT during the spring and summer of 2015. It seeks to build on findings from the previous work and shed further light onto the subject.
The CSGN continues to support the GYOWG. A core objective for this body is to raise awareness of the potential of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
The GYOWG is also starting to support local authorities to develop individual food growing strategies.