Local councils are often a great support for finding suitable public land for growth. There’s the key word – public. Arrange an appointment with your local council, prepare your basic plans to share with the council, and take a couple of group members along for support. Councils often have small plots of land that are not in use, and these could easily be turned into incredibly abundant growing spaces, very swiftly. You have every right to ask, and every reason to be proud of creating a functional and prolific growing space for you and your community.
Local Farmers and Landowners
Approach local farmers and landowners. In the current climate there are many farmers and landowners who may be struggling to maintain and farm on all of their land, they may have a couple of acres you could rent for them, or pay for in produce. Reach out with a letter, clearly stating your aims and the support you have from your local community. Confirm you will care for the land and heal the soil through natural growing methods, whilst offering to support that farmer at community level, if that would help them. Explain you are happy to work WITH them to ensure your local community has access to plenty of healthy food, and support their needs, should that be helpful.
Buying land can be tricky, but it is still achievable, through collective planning and funding. Work with others in your team to help raise funds and source a suitable plot. WE know there are many ways to grow large quantities of food in relatively small spaces, so consider smaller spots to get you started. As you show just how productive your plot can be, and how you are healing the world around you, as you grow, other local people will be open to potentially selling you land so you can increase your growing areas across your community.
Most community areas and urban landscapes have small plots of neglected and abandoned patches of land. These could easily be transformed into enjoyable spaces for local people. Individuals, or groups, reclaiming such spaces and growing flowers, trees, fruit or vegetables have become known as guerrilla gardeners. Guerrilla gardening is the term given to growing plants on a piece of land without permission of the owner.
Technically it is considered illegal in the UK, however it is incredibly rare to be prosecuted. Most councils’ concerns are around health and safety – such as gardening at night. This is an element to be conscious of before beginning any plan of rejuvenation, if this is something an individual chooses to pursue. If this idea appeals to you, here are some practical suggestions which may be beneficial.
- Look out for some local unloved land. Once you start looking, you will notice how many little neglected patches of unkempt public space there are. Abandoned flower beds, bare plots of mud and concrete, patches of bare earth and worn grass.
- Choose one close by and one that you think you can work with. Make a plan. Which plants would work in this patch? Do you imagine growing flowers, trees or edible plants that the community may benefit from?
- Consider how long you may need to work on this and when you are free to undertake the work. It is often considered better to work at night, in order to draw less attention from those who may not appreciate the process.
- Recruit supportive friends and family to help you.
- Check the health of the soil. If nothing has grown there for a while, there may be a good reason. The soil may need to be improved before you start planting.
- Spread the love. Why not let people know what you did in the area? Consider putting up a poster somewhere suitable or placing a marker in the soil. Share what and why you have done this. Don’t be afraid of engaging with people as they pass by, you may even recruit more guerrilla gardeners and start a local revolution!