The country’s biggest celebration of gardening will be in full bloom this week and the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) is encouraging Borders residents to take part in National Gardening Week by growing their own food.
There has been a significant increase in community growing activity across southern Scotland between 2010 and 2015 according to new research from the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT).
The study gathered data on the number of sites and area of land used for community growing. The results estimate that there are more than 300 sites spread over 230 hectares of land in the CSGN area, with around 72% of the space used for allotments, 16% for community orchards and 12% for community gardens.
The average community growing space was found to be around 0.6 hectares, depending on site usage, with allotment sites tending to be the largest, averaging around 1 hectare, followed by community orchards (0.7 hectares) and community gardens being much smaller at 0.3 hectares.
The findings indicate that the number of sites and area of land used for allotments in central Scotland has grown by 7% since 2010 to approximately 6,700 individual plots across more than 160 allotment sites which equates to over half (53%) of the region’s community growing sites.
According to the research, there has been a 39% increase in the number of new community orchards to 50, with an associated 28% increase in land coverage to 37 hectares, resulting in this type of land usage now making up 15% of the mix.
Community gardens have experienced the fastest growth both in terms of number of sites and land coverage between 2010 and 2015 with numbers increasing by 79% over the period to 84 and land coverage increasing by 44% to 29 hectares. The research reveals that community gardens now equate to 28% of community growing sites.
Now in its fifth year, National Gardening Week provides an opportunity for people to recognise the many advantages of growing their own food, as community growing has a positive role to play in eating well, good health and wellbeing and fostering community spirit by encouraging people to get together.
Growing your own food can also positively impact on the local environment through a reduction in food mileage as participants reduce their fuel consumption and supermarkets face a reduced demand for products sourced from further afield.
Keith Geddes, Chair of the CSGNT, which drives forward delivery of the CSGN, said: “As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, we are working to increase the area of land used for growing plants, fruit and vegetables across the region and what better way for locals to get involved than by taking part in National Gardening Week.
“Our research highlights a significant increase in the number of sites and area of land used for community growing since 2010 and interestingly, it is community gardens, which tend to be the smallest sites, which are experiencing the fastest growth, demonstrating that even very small community growing initiatives at a local level can contribute to the wider goal.”