person holding green leaf plant
Photo by Rasa Kasparaviciene on Unsplash

In a northern market town, a small group of locals were thinking about the future for themselves and the planet. They felt cut off from the decisions being made in their name and asked themselves what they could do to start to bring about the changes they knew had to happen.

So they looked about the town and the many unloved spaces they passed everyday and decided that if they planted vegetables in them and encouraged people to take what they needed, they could create a conversation that would enable more locals to think differently about their gifts, their power and the potential to change their futures. So spades in hand, they set to work.

Growing spaces were renamed Propaganda Gardens which started conversations that encouraged people to imagine that through collective small actions they could help people live happy, healthy and prosperous lives. Lives lived in connected communities, created through their own will and  imagination and grown through the power of small actions. Incredible Edible was born.

We’re keen to take our approach to the next level. Backed by a broad cross-section of  organisations, we’re proposing a Community Right to Grow (aka a Right to Grow). We already have the Bill ready to go. It’s a bold vision where there is a presumption that unused public land can be used by communities to grow food on. Initially our aim is to get the idea out there and it does seem to be an idea of it’s time. We’re excited that a cross section of Peers recently proposed it as an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill, and Labour MP Mike Kane will also be proposing the idea as a 10 Minute Rule Bill in June.

Our Bill would put an obligation on councils to maintain a free public list of all land in its area suitable for cultivation and issue a certificate of cultivation to any community interest group that applies to use listed land, for free. Once a community interest group has been granted a certificate they are enacting their Right to Grow and together with the council can work out respective roles in nurturing and improving the wellbeing of folks in the area. If a council decides to sell the land, then they must allow the community group to bid for it or if the council has other future plans for the site, a conversation with the group could part of the deal and a meanwhile licence may be appropriate.

It is potentially transformative. We would see wildlife-friendly urban spaces, increased support for local supply chains, an enhanced relationship between communities and councils, a new entry point for farming careers, healthy food, and stronger communities.

I’m encouraging co-operators to get behind the Bill by contacting their MP or perhaps Peer and express their support for the amendment at Report stage in the Lords and Mike Kane MP’s 10 Minute Rule Bill.