Right to Grow: Hull to become first city in UK to allow people to grow food on disused land

Hull has become the first UK city to back allowing people to grow their own food on disused land as campaigners call for it to be adopted nationally.

Councillors passed a motion backing the right to grow vegetables on Hull City Council-owned land. Coun Gill Kennett, who tabled the motion, said it would help people facing the frightening prospect of not being able to afford food provide for themselves.

Council Infrastructure Portfolio Holder Coun Mark Ieronimo said it would bring communities together, reduce antisocial behaviour and make places look better as well as providing quality food.

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It comes as the Incredible Edible campaign group has called for all local authorities to offer the right to grow. It would see them maintain a free, accessible map of all public land suitable for cultivation and wildlife projects.

People growing vegetables in a grass verge.People growing vegetables in a grass verge.
People growing vegetables in a grass verge.

The group has also called on councils to make the process of getting leases for land like grass verges straightforward, doing away with complex rules around their use.

The proposals have already been debated in Parliament and MPs are set to discuss it further, with Incredible Edibles having drawn up a draft bill outlining how they would work.

The group stated: “Up and down the country public land is being left loved, costing our local authorities money to care for, and giving nothing back to the community in return. With a little TLC, these parcels of land can be turned into oases for food and wildlife.

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“The biggest obstacle to more local food growing is the lack of available land close to people’s homes. The land is there across our public realm, from verges to unloved, often forgotten, sites. In the middle of the cost of living crisis unlocking local healthy food could be a life line for many communities offering practical hope for everyone.”

In Hull, the issue is set to be discussed in council committees and details will be drawn up on its implementation before it is formally launched.

Coun Kennett said last month the right was needed as soon as possible.

The Newington and Gipsyville ward councillor said: “Land already earmarked for buildings in the future could be temporarily used to grow food. Years can pass before the foundations are laid and fruit and vegetables could be grown over several seasons. We should be supporting communities with items to help them grow food and there are older gardeners who are keen to pass on their skills.”

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Coun Ieronimo said the idea made sense on lots of different levels.

The portfolio holder said “We’re blessed with green areas in Hull and spaces that are no longer used like old car parks. Quality food should be affordable, it shouldn’t be something exclusive only to those who have the money to pay for it.

“It’s hard to grow your own food, I know because the amount of tomatoes I’ve lost over the years is incredible. But this will bring people together and it’ll improve mental health and reduce food waste.”

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