By Maria Dominguez.
Do you live in Aberdeen? Do you own a garden? Would you like to grow your own food but do not have access to a garden? Here is the perfect solution for you: The Ferryhill Landshare Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to promote “local organic food production by bringing people together.” (1) It has been designed for people who want to grow their own fruit and vegetables but do not have anywhere to do it. There are many underused green areas in Aberdeen which could easily be converted into functional growing spaces.
The project is based on the Channel 4 Landshare Scheme model where the land owners, who are not currently using their gardens or green spaces, allow growers (who often live in flats or do not have access to gardens) to cultivate on their unused land. There are hundreds of people on allotment waiting lists in Aberdeen and this project might be the answer to reducing the burden on the local authority.
The project is working well in Ferryhill and, with a little effort, could be developed in other areas of Aberdeen.
After visiting Ferryhill, I began to see how this scheme was helping to mend the lost sense of community and at the same time grow healthy food. The idea is not only to put people who own gardens in touch with people who need them, it also strives to give advice on what to grow and when to grow it. The group also has volunteers who lend a hand to anyone new to growing veg and help them get started.
I even managed to start my own veggie patch after spending some time volunteering with the project. I was particularly inspired by the transformation of a cemented patio in a guest house which was turned into a beautiful functional growing space. This is where the owner of the guest house now grows all the veg needed for the summer, from tatties to broccoli, tomatoes and carrots, strawberries, runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers, and much more.
When you start growing your own food, you realise how beneficial it is, not only for your health but also for the environment. It saves trips to the supermarket, which means less use of packaging and less use of fuel (if you drive to the supermarket). Growing your own fruit and veg will definitely change you and I am sure that you will taste the difference!
I would highly recommend that you give it a go, even if you have never grown anything before. Being in contact with the soil and seeing your seeds grow helps you appreciate and understand nature, thus giving you an insight into where our food really comes from. It also encourages you to take time out of your busy schedule and spend some relaxing and productive hours outdoors.
(1.) Ferryhill Landshare Scheme Facebook group