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A Call in Scotland to Grow Food on Unused Land - BCC

An article from BBC Scotland about the movement to free up unused public land for market gardens is here:

This issue is crucial to us in a City regulating itself and its residents to death, or at least into homelessness and malnutrition. In my book, homelessness and malnutrition are tantamount to death, and death by the cruelest of means.

Recognizing the core democratic principle that the people most affected by an issue are those most knowledgeable about and capable of finding solutions, we have in this City an army of politicians and bureaucrats laying waste to our livability by arbitrarily applying sets of rules that serve no one but the disaster capitalists.

Here from Scotland, a nation with a similar Common Law and colonial background as BC, are possible solutions:

'Rising numbers' growing own food
Scotland first to map green space

The Scottish Parliament is to be asked to make it easier for people to grow food on underused ground owned by public bodies and private businesses.

A petition to Holyrood says there should be a presumption in favour of allowing access.

It argues that allowing people to grow and harvest food on derelict and unused land would be good for their diets and budgets.

The petition will be considered by a committee of MSPs later on Tuesday.

The Scottish government last week launched a consultation on its proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.

Among the questions asked in the consultation are whether communities should have a right to use or manage unused and underused public sector assets.

Food security
The consultation also asks what measures can be introduced to provide people with space to grow fruit and vegetables or establish community gardens.

The petitioners argue that bodies such as councils, health boards, power companies and conservation organisations all own large amounts of unused land, some of which is derelict or unused.

They state: "We believe that much land is needlessly unproductive, and would urge the Scottish government to encourage ways to allow people to use land more intelligently.

"We believe that making land available to poorer Scots offers them a way to grow healthy, accessible local food, and build skills and food security at a local level.

The petition was lodged with the parliament by John Hancox, who has been involved in a number of community garden projects.

He has been involved in cultivating fruit trees close to the River Kelvin in Glasgow.

He said: "We identified a bit of land that was basically being used for not very much else. It's actually a really nice bit of ground.

"It's south-facing, and we planted three plum trees, which have done really well. They're all covered in plums now, which is really nice.

"Having a few fruit trees next to the Kelvin - it's a no-brainer. Why not more of this kind of thing?"

Wildlife habitats
However, some organisations named in his petition as holding large amounts of land which might be suitable for growing food told BBC Scotland there would be practical difficulties with implementing Mr Hancox's proposal.

They included RSPB Scotland, which said the land it owns is looked after specifically to promote conservation and to provide habitats for many of the country's rarest and most threatened species.

Permitting a deliberate change in management practice that would potentially devalue its suitability for those species would be against its principles as a wildlife conservation charity, it added, and would also likely be illegal.

And Scottish Natural Heritage said it was "supportive" of the idea but pointed out that its land is quite often not suitable for growing things and can be distant from communities who may be interested in it.

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Comment by Randy Chatterjee on June 12, 2012 at 10:02am

And solutions we have, and in spades. Relating to this topic isVillage's Market Garden proposalcalled Twin Harvest, proposed to the City over three years ago...and turned down. Many more permaculture urban farming projects have also been denied, despite securing broad community support, and hundreds of acres of City land remains fallow and unproductive.

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