Time for Change – Growing our own in Ardrishaig

Time for Change Argyll and Bute organised protests in Lochgilphead, Oban and Helensburgh in solidarity with those taking place in Glasgow for climate justice (pictured).

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The latest in a regular series of opinion columns by members of climate campaign group Time for Change Argyll and Bute

By Freya Aitchison and Lix Armstrong

As we tentatively look towards spring, people all over Argyll are starting to bring their vegetable gardens out of their winter hibernation and thinking about what seeds to plant in the next few months.

It’s a very satisfying project: dig your garden, plant some seeds, watch them germinate and nurture them into strong plants that you can harvest and eat, all in the space of a few months.

These joys, though, are usually only accessible to those who have their own garden or space to grow in.

That’s why Time for Change member Lix Armstrong wants to start a community food growing project in Ardrishaig, giving everyone the chance to experience the many benefits of growing their own food.

The project is still in its planning stages, but will hopefully take shape in the form of allotment-style raised beds, and a shared polytunnel space to grow vegetables and fruit.

Not only would this food growing project reduce greenhouse gas emissions relating to food miles, packaging and chemical fertilisers, it will also reduce food waste, as people are much more likely to eat misshapen or wonky vegetables that they’ve grown themselves.

Vegetables that don’t look perfect are often left to rot in fields due to supermarket demands.

In fact, 30 per cent of all food that is produced is wasted either on farms, in supermarkets, or in people’s homes.

Not only is this a huge waste of resources, it is also a big source of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane.

Food waste in the UK produces 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Emissions aside, community food growing also comes with huge social benefits, such as allowing more people to access fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing their reliance on less healthy processed foods.

It’s also great for both the mental and physical health of participants, as repetitive, rewarding tasks like gardening are proven to lower stress levels and help people feel connected both to the land and to the community.

Gardening also provides a steady, low impact form of exercise that is more sustainable than when exercise itself is the main goal.

Lix hopes that this project will link with community groups and local primary schools so that as many people as possible can share their learning and grow things together.

Growing projects like Lix’s planned one in Ardrishaig could exist all over Argyll.

Crucial to this project’s success, says Lix, will be the accessibility of the project to people in the area, security of land, and a willingness from the community for it to thrive as a long-term project.

If you are interested in lending a hand, or if you have any skills (practical or otherwise) to contribute, Lix would love to hear from you, so send us an email at timeforchangeargyll@gmail.com and we will put you in touch.

If you’d like to find out more about Time for Change Argyll and Bute, email timeforchangeargyll@gmail.com or visit the group’s Facebook page.