First year results of food growing strategy shows positive progress

“Good progress” is being made one year into the delivery of a 5-year ‘Growing our Future’ strategy which aims to help empower Highland communities to grow their own food.

Councillor Graham MacKenzie, Chair of Highland Council’s Communities and Place Committee said: “We all saw a large increase in local food growing activities in our local communities during the pandemic. The Council is now supporting local interests through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act by delivering this food growing strategy which supports the provision of allotment and food growing spaces.”

A report to councillors’ states that: “Progress has been made against most action points of the strategy, with constructive support and engagement from relevant Highland Council officers and stakeholder organisations.”

The report added that: “An increased interest in community food growing activities has been observed in Highland, with many community groups keen to incorporate some form of food growing within their projects.”

An initial guidance document on community food growing has been produced and a detailed action plan was developed setting out how the Council, High Life Highland, and community partners will work to meet the objectives laid out in the strategy.

A survey of Highland schools showed that of the 87 schools that responded 83% are growing food and 62% are engaging their community to utilise skills in their projects. Guidance has been provided to schools wishing to cook, eating and grow their own produce.

Support has been provided to various community garden and allotment groups in Dingwall, Raigmore (Inverness), Croy, Auchteryre and Aviemore.

To help ensure that communities are informed and connected to grow their own food mentoring networks and knowledge hubs are being created through a series of workshops and online resources.

The Council is recruiting a Greenspace Officer to complete an audit on Council owned land that can be identified for potential allotment and growing spaces. Meanwhile staff in High Life Highland have been supportive of community-led food growing projects at sites in Dalneigh and Culloden in Inverness.

The Council will review the final outcomes of the Highland Food Growing Strategy in 2027 with interim reviews on annual basis.

24 May 2023