Allotments guidance for local authorities: consultation

Consultation on draft statutory guidance for local authorities relating to certain sections of Part 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 - Allotments.

10. Impacts and Benefits of Community Growing

10.1 Community growing in all its forms can provide wide ranging, and long lasting, benefits to communities and to individuals involved in community growing. The goals for local authority food-growing strategies set out above and the National Outcomes and National Indicators and UN Sustainable Development Goals will assist authorities to achieve a number of cross-cutting impacts and benefits in five key areas :

1. Health benefits, as We are healthy and active as a nation;

2. Environmental benefits, as We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment;

3. Economic; 4. Social; and 5. Education benefits, as these collectively assist us all to Live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.

10.2 Health

  • Fruit and vegetable consumption increases when people are involved in community growing, as evidenced by a 2008 survey where participants reported that household members involved in community gardening consumed 40% more fruit and vegetables per day than those who did not, and they were 3.5 times more likely to consume the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day; [17]
  • Diets are seen to improve and people acknowledge that they eat more healthily when they are involved in growing their own food [18] ;
  • Gardening activities can provide low-impact exercise and improve physical health and can be a more sustainable form of exercise than when the exercise itself is the primary driver [19] ;
  • Community growing can lower stress levels, offer mental health benefits and a supportive social environment, where growers view the growing space as a "safe" space where they can relax and unwind from the stresses of other parts of their lives [20] ;
  • Creating green space in built up areas improves air quality and provides recreational opportunities that encourage socialising, decrease isolation and lead to improved confidence and self-esteem; [21]
  • GPs and healthcare professionals can consider social prescribing to connect people to non-medical sources of support and resources in the community, for example a GP or healthcare professional might consider it appropriate to prescribe gardening related activity to improve the health and wellbeing of the individual; [22]
  • Community growing spaces in hospital spaces, for example, can prove useful spaces for Occupational Therapists and other medical specialists when working with their patients; [23]
  • Horticultural therapy through community growing can provide wide-ranging health-related benefits to ease suffering and promote recovery from illness. Such therapy can, for example, help to reduce physical pain, assist with rehabilitation and recovery, and alleviate the symptoms of dementia [24] ;
  • In January 2018 the Scottish Government concluded a public consultation on a draft diet and healthy weight strategy, which also helps to underpin the National Outcome We are healthy and active; [25]

10.3 Environmental

  • Community growing can provide a good source of environmentally sound, healthy, locally sourced food and make this more readily available to local people [26] ;
  • Community growing spaces can improve biodiversity [27] , and when linked with other greenspaces, create important green corridors for wildlife. ;
  • The Pollinator Strategy for Scotland 2017-2027 sets out how Scotland can continue to be a place where pollinators thrive, along with actions that are needed to help achieve that objective; [28]
  • Community growing sites provide opportunities to protect and improve the soil, with research indicating higher quality soil on a GYO site compared to its surrounding agricultural land [29] ;
  • An organic approach to community growing can help to reverse soil degradation. Reversing this trend will help to address the loss of organic matter from the soil, reduce soil compaction and erosion, and help to reverse the trend in mineral decline in vegetables; [30]
  • Community growing sites can help to alleviate climate change through good soil management and appropriate ground cover management via healthy and appropriate plant cover; [31]
  • Many community growing projects have an ethos of upcycling and can be exemplars of inventive uses of what otherwise may be waste products, e.g. pallets, scaffolding planks, food waste, etc; [32]
  • Community food growing spaces and food growing can contribute to, and benefit, the environment and improve the quality of life for local residents, for example by addressing areas prone to anti-social behaviour, cleaning up blight sites and fly-tipping sites, revitalising unused spaces or bringing vacant or derelict land back into use; [33]
  • Community food growing spaces contribute to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change through carbon reduction and sustainable design. Other sustainability benefits can be considerable, such as reduction in air miles, reduction in carbon emissions and improvements to air quality through locally grown food [34] ;
  • Community food growing spaces can also make positive contributions to sustainable drainage through the permeable surfaces of food growing spaces and the harvesting of rainwater; [35]
  • Carbon emissions (including reducing energy use, more sustainable transport and less waste) can be reduced by between 2kg and 5kg of carbon equivalent for every kilogram of vegetable produced [36] ;
  • Some soil management methods, such as regenerative agriculture, enhance and sustain the health of the soil by restoring and increasing its carbon content; [37]
  • Community growing can mean enhanced space and habitat for wildlife, such as through planting to attract pollinators or companion planting on the allotment [38] ; there are many examples of positive steps taken on community growing sites to encourage biodiversity; [39]
  • Community growing can lead to a reduction in food waste through composting and reduced food packaging, contributing to the national and local zero waste agenda. [40]

10.4 Economic

  • Community farms and gardens tend to spend grant money locally by employing local people, and on occasions secure funding to employ staff or to pay volunteers; [41] and therefore bring in jobs to a local area; [42]
  • The option for people to grow their own food to supplement the buying of produce from retail outlets should offer them monetary savings. For example an experienced allotment holder succeeded in producing 298kg of fruit and vegetables from his 200 square metre plot in one year, which is calculated to be sufficient to provide the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables for a family of 4 for over 6 months [43] ;
  • Taking part in community growing activities can develop skills that increase employability which will support the local economy indirectly by preparing more people for employment; [44]
  • A 2011 social return on investment ( SROI) study of community gardens has shown that for every £1 invested by funders, £3.56 of social value was returned [45] . This study sought to measure benefits such as significant positive changes to stakeholders, including volunteers and local people, involved in or visiting community gardens;
  • A similar SROI study from 2012 of the social return from investing in a horticultural training and community growing facility shows that for every £1 invested around £9 of community benefits was returned through benefits such as new skills; [46]
  • Selling excess produce and generating local business from produce grown on grow-your-own sites (excluding produce grown on an allotment site which is grown not-for-profit) will have a positive impact on the local community through job creation; [47]
  • From selling fruit and vegetables to value added products like jams and chutneys, on a not-for-profit basis, and providing training and continuing personal development opportunities, community growing can help to contribute to the local economy and encourage enterprising activity; [48]
  • Community growing spaces can provide a wealth of educational opportunities, both informal and formal, whether it be through hosting horticultural training courses, to more informal learning about biodiversity or communication skills; [49]

10.5 Social

  • A sense of community is encouraged when people participate in food growing activities [50] .
  • Access to community growing spaces can help to encourage more vulnerable people to get involved in local food growing, and many growing spaces can evidence a reduction in isolation and loneliness for those taking part, for example through organised social activities such as dances and barbeques that occur periodically [51] ;
  • Community growing can offer "social horticulture", where the outcome is to be socially inclusive and involve client groups (such as those with dependency problems, or immigrants or migrants) who may otherwise feel socially excluded; [52]
  • Community growing spaces can offer volunteering opportunities, events and festivals throughout the year. [53]

10.6 Education

  • One of the eight Curriculum for Excellence [54] areas allows children to learn about health and wellbeing matters to ensure that they acquire skills to live healthy, happy lives; [55]
  • Community growing can contribute to learning. People working in a community growing environment learn techniques, such as organic techniques, which they can then apply; [56]
  • People involved in community growing can benefit from a therapeutic learning environment through which they gain insights into themselves as well as transferable life skills; [57]
  • Food growing programmes in schools can have positive impacts on pupil nutrition and attitudes towards healthy eating, specifically related to the willingness to try new foods; [58]
  • Food growing programmes in schools might offer useful opportunities for school holiday clubs, and would allow children to become involved in more gardening activities, such as harvesting their fruit and vegetables during their summer holidays;
  • Food growing spaces provide a learning environment, where young and old can learn about a wide range of topics, including:
    • Biodiversity;
    • Food origins;
    • Develop the skills to grow-your-own;
    • Botany;
    • Climatology;
    • Cookery;
    • Geography
    • Recycling/upcycling.

Question 21 Are paragraphs 10.1 to 10.6 of the FGS statutory guidance clear and understandable, to allow the local authority to deliver its statutory obligations under Part 9?


If no, i.e. you consider that the guidance is not clear and understandable, please tell us why you think this, and how it needs to be improved. Please include the relevant paragraph numbers in your response.

Question 21 comments:

Question 22 Are there any gaps or omissions in paragraphs 10.1 to 10.6 of the FGS statutory guidance?


If yes, i.e. you consider that there are gaps or omissions, please tell us what you think is missing. If appropriate, please include the relevant paragraph numbers in your response.

Question 22 comments:


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