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Push to get Highlanders growing their own food is making 'positive progress'

By Philip Murray

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Highland Council's food growing strategy is making 'positive progress', councillors have heard.
Highland Council's food growing strategy is making 'positive progress', councillors have heard.

GREEN-fingered efforts to help Highland communities grow their own food are making "good progress", councillors have heard.

Members of Highland Council's communities and place committee heard that the first-year results of the local authority's five-year 'Growing our Future' strategy have shown "positive progress" when they met this week.

More than four-fifths of schools that responded to council surveys said they are now growing food and almost two-thirds are encouraging their local community to get involved.

And numerous community garden and allotment groups in communities like Aviemore, Dingwall and Raigmore are also among those to have been given support.

Councillor Graham MacKenzie, chairman of the 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.”

More council news.

A report to councillors’ revealed 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.”

It added: “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.”

The meeting heard that a guide to community food growing had been produced as part of the initiative 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 per cent are growing food and 62 per cent are engaging their community to utilise skills in their projects. Guidance has also been provided to schools wishing to cook, eating and grow their own produce.

As well as the community garden and allotment groups mentioned earlier, the scheme has also aided similar groups in Croy and Auchtertyre.

'Knowledge hubs' are also being created through a series of workshops and online resources.

The council is also 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.

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