Friday, 18 September 2009

Allotted places In the summer the Guardian mentioned that the mayor of London had launched a scheme to turn over 2,000 pieces of land in London (should that be 2,012 pieces of land?) into space for food growing by the 2012 Olympics. And the financial centre could soon host some of its first temporary allotments with giant 'grow bags' set up on building sites. What an appropriate location. Perhaps the time of the allotment has come at last, thanks in part to the indiscretions of a few financiers. The New Local Government Network (NLGN) has published a review of the importance of allotments, pointing out that Allotments can improve people’s quality of life, prevent exclusion, increase physical exercise, encourage a nutritious diet, support mental health, help people relax, teach new life skills, empower people, give individuals self-esteem, reconnect people with the food they eat, educate citizens about healthy food and environmental stability, tackle CO2 emissions, reduce packaging, support more sustainable waste management, conserve biodiversity, facilitate social interaction, build cohesive communities, strengthen social ties and networks, reduce crime and secure our food supplies. The authors, Nick Hope and Victoria Ellis, recommend that 'edible landscaping' design should be actively encouraged by councils and large scale urban developments should be forced to allocate land for allotments. They also recommend that local authorities encourage community gardening, noting that it improves 'opportunities for greater social interaction and cohesion'. They explore socially responsible approaches from landowners to making land available. The recommendations include: Offer discounted allotment rates to citizens with lower incomes. Adopt a collaborative approach so that people who can travel have access to plots in neighbouring council boroughs if supply exceeds demand in their area. Produce an allotment strategy to support the planning, promotion and protection of allotments, both now and in the future. Councils encourage public petitions from their citizens on allotments. If the council’s overview and scrutiny committee decides the response to a petition is not adequate or substantive, petitioners should be able to secure a debate of the full council. Previously: Allotment folk

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