London councils go the extra mile to support residents to grow food
Five councils have been highlighted for supporting their residents to access land and support to grow food before and during the Covid-19 crisis, in a new report published by Sustain’s London Food Link network.
The report – Response, Resilience and Recovery: London’s food response to Covid-19 – was written using information in a survey sent to all councils, covering a range of food-related themes of which food growing was one.
Councils coming out on top before and during the pandemic were Greenwich, Islington, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. All were asked to show how they support and promote food growing in their borough.This ranged from capacity building, creating and nurturing partnerships, offering residents practical support and help to access land for food growing, putting land use and food growing in local planning policies as well as a commitment to growing within other council plans and strategies.
Read our blog to found out more about council leadership on food growing
One example is Waltham Forest who have, as one of the leading councils, embedded food growing within their approach to public health. As part of their new Food Growing Strategy being developed and their Health and Wellbeing strategy, they are mapping existing and potential new growing sites in order to increase local food production. At the time of writing they had identified 29 potential new growing sites across schools, street parks and allotments, on top of 72 existing community food growing sites across the borough.
“We think that providing communities access to land and the means to take part in the process of growing their own food, whether as households, families or as part of a community or support group, is more important now then ever. We have seen that demand for allotments is higher than even, as is the need to provide people access to healthy fresh food” commented Fiona McAllister, Capital Growth Coordinator. “This means we need councils to get behind food growing initiatives to ensure all residents have access to grow food, regardless of where they live or their income”.
The report assesses actions taken during the pandemic as well as the foundations that had helped them to be able to respond during the crisis. Responses to the pandemic included 15 councils supporting community gardens to continue to grow food and 11 going further to connect growers with local food providers including foodbanks. This work has been supported by Capital Growth’s latest Community Harvest initiative which provides support and funding for gardens to grow to donate.
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Capital Growth is a project of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.