Fife Council pledge to increase number allotments to meet growing post-pandemic demand
and live on Freeview channel 276
The new five-year allotment and community growing strategy, which was approved by Fife’s Cabinet Committee on Thursday, lays out plans to increase the number growing spaces across the Kingdom by a minimum of two per year.
According to the council, demand has more than doubled since the pandemic, and approximately 2,100 people are on the waiting list for allotments or growing spaces. As part of the new five-year strategy, it has pledged to focus on several areas for action - including the creation of new garden plots.
“With increasing demand for allotments, we need to ensure there is more land available and that we make best use of the land we have,” a committee report from the communities and neighbourhoods service said. “We will work across council services and public sector partners to identify and map public land for community growing and explore the use of an interactive map of sites.”
The report continued: “We will also increase the number of allotments, community growing spaces, orchards, and community gardens by developing a minimum of two new allotment sites per annum and aspiring to create new community gardens (including informal community growing spaces) in each of Fife’s seven areas.”
Consultations with communities have highlighted that people are asking for more allotments and spaces for a range of growing opportunities - this strategy aims to give them what they want.
Councillors were full of praise for the proposals, calling them a ‘positive,’ ‘encouraging’ and much welcomed report.
In addition to creating new sites, Peter Duncan, Fife’s allotment officer, is hoping to get horticultural training programmes off the ground with grant money secured through the UK Share Prosperity fund.
“The whole idea is that we have a statutory duty to provide training for allotment holders,” he said. “We’re hoping to widen this out to the broader community. Consultation results highlighted that there are people with large gardens, particularly in areas of deprivation, that wish to grow but don’t have the knowledge. That’s where we hope the training element - and widening it out to ppl who wish to get involved - will address that and empower people to take care of what they’ve got.”
Councillor Jan Wincott, spokesperson for environment and climate change, believes the new strategy will bring many “physical, environmental and mental health benefits” to local communities by bringing people together and reducing social isolation.
“We welcome this new strategy as demand for allotments and community growing space has risen dramatically in Fife since the pandemic. More people are valuing greenspace, being in nature and being part of a community,” she said. “We recognise there are many opportunities for food growing beyond allotments, such as private gardens, community gardens, orchards and school grounds."
Cllr Wincott continued: “The strategy hopes to maximise the use of all the available space. But to be successful we recognise that council services need to work together and in partnership with communities and other organisations.”