We were very pleased that Alison Johnstone, the Green Party's Lothians list MSP, has linked our project and others, such as Granton Community Gardens, with this new report, PLENTY.
She lodged a motion on the future of Scotland's food which is to be debated on Thursday 17 March 2016, and in this she commended our project for its food-related work:
Motion S4M-15826: Scotland's Food Future
That the Parliament believes that everyone in Scotland should have financial and geographical access to nutritious food both as a right and with dignity; welcomes the work of the Scottish Food Coalition and its report, PLENTY: Food, Farming and Health in a New Scotland; applauds efforts to strengthen community-based food networks and end food poverty, and commends the work of Granton Community Gardens, Edinburgh Community Food, Broomhouse Health Strategy Group, Pilton Health Project, Leith Community Crops in Pots, Edinburgh Food Belt, Nourish, the Cyrenians and groups providing emergency food relief to people across the Lothians.
Boots on the ground
We believe we are the 'boots on the ground' infrastructure that is spearheading change in our communities. We are attempting to set up a food system that works for Leith, and it is our belief that if our project plans are realised that our work could serve as a model to be replicated across Scotland.
Broken food system
We think that solutions to our broken food system must include infrastructure within our cities. Farming in rural areas also clearly needs to be transformed, but without food growing in the city major reformation is impossible. The environment in which we live shapes our lives and attitudes - for too long the only options for food been sugar-stacked supermarket shelves.
Environment crucial to health
Environment is crucial to health; a healthy environment means healthy children. It is simple common sense. Children want what they can see. They want what the other kids next to them have, and if they see vegetables they just love to eat them, so the answer to Scottish diets is bringing farming closer to the children: bringing the country to our cities.
Remember that this has been done before, with the 'Dig for Victory' campaign during the Second World War, when British people had the healthiest diets in recent centuries! We must learn from our successes and our mistakes. We shall prevail if we use our common sense, It is quite clearly a mistake to have heavily built-up cities were children are unable to access land, or healthy food.
Children love their greens
Every year over the past few years of running this project we have witnessed little Leithers picking fresh salad or beets and munching away on raw veg. Remarkably, we have even watched groups of little ones trying out and enjoying various edible flowers. This contradicts the common narrative that children won't eat their vegetables and only want Mars Bars deep-fried in chip fat. They love to eat their greens!
Education not enough
Education is not enough. Transforming our cities is the key to change, Building our infrastructure in the city is the key to change. That is why Crops in Pots is embarking on a ground-breaking (apologies to advocates of the no-dig approach!) example of how Scotland's food system can be better.
Let us use the Community Empowerment Act, the Land Reform Bill (soon to be an Act) and the desire for a better food system to construct a joined-up approach. We can do wonderful things here if we want to.
Where would you prefer to shop?
Ask yourself this... Assuming you had young children, if you had the choice between doing your weekly shop (or daily shop, even better, as weekly shopping leads to waste!) in a supermarket or in a little outlet based in a local community garden like our Leith Community Croft, which sourced some of the produce it sold on-site, and didn't sell lots of 'junk food', where would you prefer to take your children?
Hell-bent on poisoning themselves
In the supermarkets you will always find tantrum-throwing tots, who demand their sugary treats as if their lives depended on it, but you rarely see them engaging in such hysterics on the Croft. Stress-free parents not being harassed while their children play hide and seek amongst the trees, or the nightmare of little darlings hell-bent on poisoning themselves under the influence of advertising, on the way to obesity, Type II diabetes and an early grave?
It's a no-brainer.
We must not be afraid to transform Scotland. The Plenty and Force-Fed reports should be seen as a shot in the arm (or a motivational kick up the backside!) for an emerging new economy, a green economy with green jobs, one that values our environment and understands that having healthy children depends on the surrounding environment also being healthy: thriving children in thriving green cities, towns and villages.
It is crucial to our health goals to make these links.
Down at the Croft we have huge aspirations for making healthy food more available to local people, through a café (the 'Hingabootery', initially based in a modified shed), a farm shop, and our Leith Local [Farmers'] Market.We aspire to be do things differently for little Leithers. Imagine making fresh juices from rhubarb and basil hand-picked from the land: raw smoothies full of nutritious goodness, and children will all want one because the other kids have one... and healthy choices suddenly just become the norm.
'Economic growth' not the only considerationThis is a vision that can be realised if we stop allowing big business to rule us through fear and loss of economic growth. We must allow other models to grow alongside outdated supermarket models that are quite clearly a part of our broken system.
Common-sense choice time for policy makers: back our community growing initiatives as they are where our health resides. They are the new model and can be economically viable too (as SROI analysis shows). We must restore the environment through social enterprises that also support our communities.
This is what Leith Community Crops in Pots is all about.