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Successful meeting in Taunton Deane
People from across Taunton Deane came together on last night to learn more about how to access land to grow food on in the District. The evening was organized by Somerset Community Food as part of their Land and Food Project.
Presenting the results of a detailed survey of allotment provision and demand for land in the district, Linda Hull, co-ordinator of the project, said: “Considering its population, there are only 63 acres of allotments in Taunton Deane, we now know that are nearly 400 people are on allotment waiting lists in the district. If we count those who might not know how to get on a list or those who think it’s pointless to do so because the list is too long, we could probably say latent demand is double and more like over 800 would like a patch of ground to grow food on.”
The areas with the largest waiting lists included Cotford St Luke (60), Creech St Michael (60), Ruishton and Thornfalcon (30), Taunton has over 150 people waiting across the parishes and Wellington Rockwell Green & West has more than sixty people waiting. Participants from across the district listed saving money, getting fit, eating healthy quality food, being outside in nature, showing children where food comes from and doing their bit for the environment as reasons for wanting land to grow food on.
Speakers from Transition Athenley and Taunton Mind talked about the diversity of options for those still waiting for land – chances to grow as part of communities projects and a representative of Norton Fitzwarren Parish Council shared their story of looking for land and eventually purchasing it. Nick Birch from Creech St Michael also talked about his group’s continuing search for land in the village.
“It’s clear that people who really want to grow food can find ways to access land. What we need now is landowners to come forward particularly in the areas where the waiting lists are longest,” said Linda Hull. “There’s a reasonable income to be derived from leasing land for community growing, certainly better than grass keep. Both public and private landowners can benefit – public landowners can turn maintenance costs into revenue streams and local farmers can make use of marginal land and even develop captive, loyal, local markets for other crops. Not to mention the fantastic community spirit that is generated!”