Friday, 20 June 2008

Growing food in schools and on housing estates

I was delighted to read in the Ham&High recently that pupils of Parliament Hill secondary school have started growing their own food. This is exactly what the all-party Camden Sustainability Task Force recommended in its recent Food Report. We also suggested that schoolchildren should go on regular farm visits, compost food waste on school grounds, and even help in the preparation of school meals on occasion. The more we are able to connect our children with the fresh food chain the more they are likely to grow up with a taste for fresh food, rather than processed products, and the more they are likely to grow food on window sills, balconies, front yards and back gardens.

Now we - the Council - need to help this fledgling urban farming movement taking root in our schools by providing more land for food growing. The waiting list for an allotment in Camden is now a whopping 12 years. Of course land is hard to find in inner London, but we actually have lots of it on our housing estates. It's a little known fact that there's more than twice as much potentially green space on our council estates as there is in Camden's parks and open spaces. Our estates are covered with low maintenance hard siurfaces. Even the green spaces are designed primarily to be low maintenance. We have a fantastic opportunity to nurture the increasing interest in local food growing by using this land more productively.

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