In recent years there has been an increased interest in community growing. This is, in part, due by the increasing cost of fruit and vegetables in supermarkets, environmental concerns over 'food miles' and packaging, and the recognition that food growing spaces encourage physical activity and promote healthy eating. These and other notable drivers have meant that demand for land for food growing has outstripped traditional sources of supply. This is particularly true in East Renfrewshire, where for many years there had been no allotment provision.
Once a thriving kitchen garden, supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to the kitchens of Eastwood House, Eastwood Nursery had lain vacant for over 25 years and had gradually fallen into a state of disrepair. Thornliebank Tenants and Residents Association, supported by Giffnock and Thornliebank Community Councils, Woodfarm Residents' Group and Go-Greener, sought to establish a community allotment on this site, thus alleviating the shortage in allotment provision in the area. Extensive consultations confirmed support for this project within the local community and, in September 2011, East Renfrewshire Council agreed to the use of the Eastwood Nursery site for allotments.
East Renfrewshire Council leased the site to the newly formed Eastwood Nursery Allotments Association, and planning permission was granted for plots, a storage building, a portakabin, and repairs to the fences and gates.
Contractors were brought in to clear trees, brick walls and hardstanding. Fences were repaired and a secure entrance gate was installed. Volunteers helped to clear weeds, construct raised beds and build a greenhouse.
Some delays were caused by the need to dig new drainage through the lower area of the allotments, and the committee took the decision not to distribute any of these lower plots until the land has had time to dry out further. Nevertheless, the first plots were allocated in October 2012 and planting got underway in earnest in spring 2013.
Eastwood Nursery Allotments Association sought to engage the wider community in the allotments project and children from local schools were offered a chance to cultivate their own plots. Similarly, local graffiti artists were permitted to use a space within the site, whilst working in harmony with the plot holders.
The Eastwood Allotments project increases access to locally grown food and supports good dietary health. It also promotes active lifestyles by encouraging local residents to participate in gardening projects.
As a result of this project, a vacant and derelict site has been brought back into productive use. The new greenspace created by the project improves the physical appearance of the area and can be accessed and enjoyed by the local community.
While East Renfrewshire Council was supportive of the Eastwood Nursery Allotments project, cuts to local government budgets meant that it did not have the necessary resources to deliver allotment provision in this area. Support from the 2011 CSGN Development Fund was, therefore, fundamental to the success of this project.
In 2012, Eastwood Nursery Allotments Association was successful in securing a grant from Community Food and Health Scotland. This organisation seeks to improve access to a healthy, varied and balanced diet in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board area.
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