Grow your own: The rise of Food Communities across Scotland

ADAM SKELTON is a man on a mission.

The Food Communities movement that the food-grower and gardener kicked off from nothing is spreading across the Scottish Borders.

Starting in his hometown of Peebles, Adam received lots of support from local people including a donation of land behind Peebles’ old courthouse, transforming it into a beautiful, community garden for everyone to enjoy.

And now he’s inviting others from around Scotland to get involved with their own local food community.

“I was first introduced to gardening by my parents, who were growing all sorts of fruit and vegetables whilst I was at school,” recalls Adam, 46.

“I remember really enjoying picking fresh raspberries, red and black currants, apples, strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb in the garden.

“And I loved eating my mum’s crumbles, cakes and pies that she made with them.

“The food I grew up eating was amazing because it was a priority, served after lots of preparation, and usually using fresh, home-grown ingredients.

“As food is essential to our lives, I strongly believe that we should put our heart and soul into preparing it and truly enjoy and appreciate eating it.

“Food and community are two of the most fundamental of fundamentals to me, and they’re two things that we should be doing so much better.

“Food Communities is about neighbourhoods coming together to produce their own food.

“If lots of people get involved, we can be enjoying the freshest, tastiest, healthiest, most eco-friendly, truly local food and saving lots of money.

“We have already created various successful community gardens for free, using waste and donated materials, tools, seeds and plants, and are growing lots of wonderful organic fruit and vegetables.”

Food Communities is a social enterprise run entirely by volunteers without public funding or grants, which helps communities to grow their own food all year around.

Adam explains: “It’s relatively easy to begin growing for yourself – from the tiniest garden to someone who has a spare patch of land and would just like a helping hand to turn it into a community garden.

“It’s a common misconception that growing your own food is too much work and takes too much time.

“It doesn’t need much of either, as long as you go regularly and share the work.

“Our project will help you plan your garden and provide free tools, materials and the best tips and advice for successful growing.

“Food Communities spotlights the endless amazing things going on every day in our communities, and provides a platform for neighbours – young and old – to work together with a common purpose.

“Because we pay no rent nor wages and do and acquire everything for free, we have a resilient, long-term plan and a template that we aim to offer to local communities.

“Free advice and support is available on how to grow your own food via our Facebook group, blog, monthly meet-ups and community gardens.

“Our monthly meet-ups are opportunities to socialise as a group and chat about how everything is going in the gardens and allotments.”

If you would like to get involved with food communities, become part of an existing group, start your own local food community garden in your area or would just like some useful tips, you can get in touch at www.foodcommunities.org or www.facebook.com/groups/BordersFoodCommunities

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