Bill to aid change of use

A new law could help thousands of people grow their own food in community growing spaces, Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi has said.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, currently in Parliament, will make it easier for communities to take over land for their own purposes, which could include growing healthy food or building a community garden.

A community allotment scheme has already been set up in Kirriemuir after the town’s community allotment association negotiated a lease with Angus Council to bring neglected allotments back into use.

It aims to provide land for local families, individuals and groups to grow their own fruit and vegetables and was set up in response to an increasing demand for organic, own-grown fresh food.

Th bill ties in with the Scottish Government’s wider commitment of giving people more control over the decisions that shape their communities.

As part of this, an extra £10 million will be available to support regeneration through the new Empowering Communities Fund, which builds on the existing People and Communities Fund (PCF).

Mr Biagi said: “The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill will make it easier for residents in both urban and rural areas to access land for community purposes.

“Community growing projects are worthwhile as they can bring together people from all backgrounds, age groups and abilities to work towards one common goal.

“I have seen first-hand the benefits of giving people the power to make decisions about their own area. It can increase their confidence, skills and knowledge and give them more experience when it comes to applying for jobs.

“The Growing Project is exactly the type of community based organisation that we want to see flourish throughout Scotland.

“Giving people the opportunity to grow their own food can help to address food poverty, encourage healthy eating and promote the use of local, seasonal produce.”