Allotments are the green lungs of our cities

Dear Big Issue Vendors, Readers, Writers and Friends

Thanks very much for putting together the Big Issue every week. I love the magazine and in particular the news information and updates about campaigns, especially grassroots groups. I like the diversity of issues tackled and the urge to improve the world. The Big Issue has been such a great reliable supportive voice before and during the G8 protests last year when many other media outlets seemed to focus more on scaring the local population. I like the Big issue’s editorial focus on community issues and the Vox pops. I also appreciate the interviews with homeless Big Issue vendors from all over Scotland and also the ethical classified.

The content of the Big Issue often seems so much more relevant to my daily life than that of other magazines. The article about phone mast radiation is very relevant in our area in North Edinburgh where a further 10 mobile phone masts are planned on top of the neighbouring hirise. The article in the Refugee Week’s special edition about the community allotment group raising £600,000 to outsmart big developers in the bid for a green space, raises memories of the two Edinburgh allotment sites which, according to Fedega, the Federation of Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Associations, were transformed into building sites in the last five years.
It is scary to read that of 100,000 allotment plots in Scotland after the Second World War only 4000 are left and most of them are situated actually away from the multi-resident houses without gardens. Indeed many new buildings disregard any space for gardens totally in benefit for parking spaces.
They forget the benefits gardens and allotments bring to our quality of life.
Allotments help foster biodiversity and wildlife. Many gardeners grow ad eat organic healthy fruit and vegetables and enjoy a satisfying and active hobby, too. The planted trees improve the air and many plot holders receycle rainwater, compost their biological rubbish and rotate seeds and plants annually. The new NHS allotment in Bridgend has just today been launched and it also includes raised plant beds for disabled gardeners and 4 plots which are reserved for patients being prescribed gardening for their mental and physical wellbeing.

According to Fedega, the waiting list in Edinburgh for a whole or half an allotment plot is about 900 people.
Legal protection for allotment sites in Scotland is urgently needed; it is already existing in England. The current consultation of citizens on the Draft Edinburgh City Local Plan by City of Edinburgh Council mentions allotment sites and sets out the policy for the next ten years on open spaces. There is still a chance to make your voice heard till 30th of June.
Above everything else, the public should at least be aware that the green lungs of the city are becoming more and more endangered, like our mental, physical and social well being and healthy diet.

Comments on the Draft can be sent by 30th June 2006 by mail or email to FAO ECLP Team, Head of Planning & Strategy, City of Edinburgh Council, PO Box 12473, 1 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh.

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