Minister launches allotments consultation at Canton Community Garden

Natural Resources, Culture and Sport Minister John Griffiths this week visited the Canton Community Garden to announce a Green Paper setting out proposals to make more land available for allotments and to improve opportunities for community growing. The proposals will be open for consultation until 6 October 2014. Canton Community Gardens are a flagship project of the Welsh Government’s ‘Environment Wales’ initiative that gives long-term support to community ventures.

The document outlines the Welsh Government’s plans to identify and supply land for allotment use to boost skills, mental and physical health and to regenerate local communities. It aims to contribute to achieving the Welsh Government’s commitment to increase the availability of land for allotments and to complement the Community Grown Food Action Plan.

It will build on the good work already being done in Wales to help promote and facilitate sustainable community growing, such as “Tyfu Pobl” funded by the Welsh Government through the Rural Development Fund and delivered by The Federation of City Farms and Gardens, which aims to enable the exchange of knowledge and good practice within the community growing sector.

Proposals include:

•issuing guidance to local authorities on promoting and supporting community grown food;

•making Welsh Government owned land available for community grown food and encouraging and support public and private landowners to do the same;

•supporting farmers to address barriers in providing land for allotments or community grown food; and

•establishing a right for local authorities, community councils, and constituted community groups to register and use unused public land, or land where no owner can be established, for the purpose of community grown food.

The Minister said:

“People growing food for themselves and their families is a special pastime for many in Wales and can be enjoyed by individuals and groups of all ages, abilities and financial means. It has recently become more popular than ever and many local authorities are struggling to meet demand for allotments.

“Making more land available is therefore vital in meeting this demand and in contributing to boosting physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Opportunities for people to enjoy growing and gardening also have a part to play in tackling the limitations of poverty, empowering and regenerating communities and improving quality of life. More productive use of land in our community through allotments and growing spaces can also provide social benefits, bringing communities together and assisting in their regeneration.

“We want to ensure our future policy on allotments and community growing meet the needs of the people and communities who use them. I would therefore urge anybody with an interest in allotments to have your say on the issue”

Clare Sain-ley-Berry, Co-ordinator for Environment Wales said:

“It is very pleasing to see proposals to increase the land available for allotments and community gardens. They are great places to meet new friends, learn new skills and to lead a healthier more active life. They can also provide valuable habitat for pollinators and our native wildlife.  More than half the projects funded by Environment Wales last year focused on issues around food, which emphasises the contribution that locally produced food can make to issues such as well-being and tackling poverty as well as community resilience and climate change.”