Sunday, May 30, 2010

UK Gov supporting community gardening

In January 2010, the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published their Food 2030 strategy. It sets out their "vision of what (they) want the food system to look like in 2030, and how (they) can get there."

Here's their vision of how things should look by 2030:
"Consumers are informed, can choose, and afford, healthy, sustainable food.  This demand is met by profitable, competitive, highly skilled and resilient farming, fishing and food businesses, supported by first class research and development.
Food is produced, processed and distributed to feed a growing global population in ways which:
  • use global natural resources sustainably,
  • enable the continuing provision of the benefits and services that a healthy natural environment provides,
  • promote high standards of animal health and welfare,
  • protect food safety,
  • make a significant contribution to rural communities, and
  • allow us to show global leadership on food sustainability."
Buried down on page 8 of the summary document is a promising paragraph for community gardening in GB:

We want more people to know about how and where their food is grown, and to grow some of it themselves.

We will expand the Growing Schools Programme to enable another 65,000 pupils, parents and staff to gain hands-on experience of growing food, and will help make more land for growing available to communities, for instance by developing ‘meanwhile leases‘ (which let people use temporarily vacant land).
What does this have to do with us here in Coburg?
We need to find out what, if anything, our local, state and federal governments are doing to support community garden initiatives.

Do any of these levels of government have documented food policies? Do any of them have explicit aims of working to make land available or providing support for new or existing community garden programmes?

Perhaps the idea of a 'meanwhile' lease might enable the establishment of community gardens on land that is suitable and available without forcing the owners to make choose between a long-term commitment or no commitment.

This might enable a garden to get off the ground and demonstrate it's own viability as well as to make use of some open space that may have some other long-term planned use.