Using vacant and derelict spaces to grow food is a great way of making sure communities have access to a reliable source of healthy, locally produced fresh food. Growing food closer to where it is consumed improves resilience in the supply chain, and also helps to reduce unnecessary food miles, which is important in the fight against climate change.
South Seeds and Locavore took on a long term lease and converted disused overgrown tennis courts into an urban market garden. Half of the community croft is used by Locavore, a successful social enterprise – supplying their shop, delivering veg boxes to local customers, as well as wholesale supply of fresh veg to cafes and restaurants. The other half is filled with raised beds for use by the community managed by South Seeds.
With a clearly defined mission to scale up, becoming a large social enterprise grocery store which offers a viable alternative to supermarkets, they aim to shape a food system which is better for society and our environment. This includes supporting local growers by providing starter plots, facilitating volunteering and informal training opportunities, and reinvesting profits locally.
The fact that the short supply chain is resilient, demand for fresh local produce outstrips supply, that two vacant areas of land have been brought back into use, and that the business is thriving, shows the value of this approach.
Above and beyond using the land for growing produce, Locavore’s ongoing expansion has provided a variety of jobs – supported by volunteers – across the entire lifecycle of fresh produce, from planting to plate, all of which have been created by bringing vacant and derelict land back into use.
South Seeds is community-led organisation which amongst other low carbon opportunities, offers raised beds to tenement dwellers to give locals a taste of growing their own vegetables and salad crops. South Seeds based on the local high street, works to enable residents to live more sustainable lives and learning about season produce is a key element.
The site of the Croft is a disused tennis court and was a location for anti-social behaviour and an unsafe place to be. South Seeds, together with Locavore saw the potential and in agreement with the bowling and tennis club paid to mend the fence and brought it back into practical use. With over 90% of residents living in flats within 20 minutes walk, South Seeds gives a unique experience to local residents in not only learning how to grow vegetables, salad leaves and cooking herbs but learning about the importance of cutting down food miles and living sustainable lives, contributing to Glasgow as a Net Zero city.
Tenement Veg are a workers co-op who rent the land from Locavore. For them, this vacant land has allowed a group of people to create and grow a business which is promoting healthy and sustainable food, a more sustainable local economy, shortening supply chains and encouraging reuse and recycling. Part of what they do is to sell veg boxes, helping to improve access to fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables, and helping people to enjoy good quality, healthy food.