Following the Scottish Parliament’s decision to pass the Good Food Nation Bill in June 2022, there is a renewed focus on how the Scottish food system can be transformed through positive changes in how we grow, source, distribute, and consume the food we eat. A lot of emphasis is placed on the importance of a whole-system approach, whereby communities, local organisations and authorities, health boards, and the government, work together to ensure that Scotland can become a Good Food Nation. In this blog post, we’ll explore how our community growing projects and food hubs work to meet the aims of a Good Food Nation for the local communities we work in.
What is a Good Food Nation?
From the Scottish Government: A Good Food Nation is a nation in which everyone, no matter their background or circumstances, can enjoy, benefit from, and be proud of the food they eat, buy, cook, and serve every day.
Nourish Scotland have highlighted how our country’s food system is severely troubled, with food banks in high demand, healthy foods unaffordable for many, and the widespread use of unsustainable methods of food sourcing. Food insecurity, diet-related illnesses, and environmental damage are therefore just a few of the issues that a Good Food Nation aims to tackle, with Nourish Scotland arguing that ‘there is more to food than just eating.’
What does the Good Food Nation Bill do?
Put simply, ‘The Bill enshrines in law the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland being a Good Food Nation.’
Nourish Scotland emphasised how this legislation can change our food system by establishing what its core purpose is, identifying how we can move towards making it a fair and healthy system, and upholding progress through accountability.
Among many others, the Scottish Government sets out that the Good Food Nation Bill aims to achieve the following:
- Everyone in Scotland has ready access to the healthy, nutritious food they need.
- Dietary-related diseases are in decline, as is the environmental impact of our food consumption.
- Helping to improve access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods.
- Ensuring sustainability of our wonderful food industry.
The government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon recently stated that local organisations play a key role in the collective move towards these aims:
Organisations can play a leading role in this process – looking at how they boost local procurement, cut down food waste and packaging and use in-season produce as well as disposing of food waste in an environmentally friendly way.
She also noted the importance of food education:
In addition, food education can equip school pupils with the key skills they need to cook tasty, nutritious meals
Some of the ways in which our community projects help further these aims include:
Creating Meaning For Growers Through The Field To Fork Process
Through Community Meals and Cooking Workshops, we endeavor to showcase how the seasonal produce grown by our volunteers can be used to create tasty and enjoyable, but nonetheless nutritious meals, that can be enjoyed by everyone in the community.
These meals and workshops use produce freshly harvested from our gardens, and is transported by a member of our team to be prepped before being taken back to the garden to be used and enjoyed by attendees at these events. All of which works to minimise food waste by harvesting only what is needed, while transporting and distributing the food sustainably.
(Produce from the Murrayburn and Hailesland Community Garden, freshly harvested by one our fantastic growers, Carol.)
… to fork
(Our Community Food Officer, Catherine Fyfe, ready to prep the produce ahead of a Community Food Workshop.)
For our community growers, this full-circle process establishes a sense of pride over the food they’re growing, with one grower stating how this is one of the most rewarding parts of being involved in our projects:
Our Senior Community Gardener, Steve Pike also highlighted how enjoyable he finds this process: ‘My ultimate favourite part is when you grow something that someone then turns into a dish that tastes fantastic. Just experiencing that process come full circle, tasting something that you grew in the garden, that is when the process is at its most meaningful.’
Supporting Communities To Grow Seasonal Produce
With the support and assistance from Steve, our growers and volunteers can grow a large variety of seasonal produce in our gardens. The process of doing so fosters a wide-range of gardening skills, and works to establish resilient communities that can grow their own nutritious food sustainably.
Educating Children And Young People
Facilitated by our School Farm Leaders, our School Farm project gives pupils the opportunity to be involved in the process of growing food. From choosing what seasonal produce they’d like to grow and sowing the seeds, to maintaining their growing beds, harvesting their crops, and sampling the wide variety of produce they grow, the pupils are given great exposure to healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables in a proactive and enjoyable way, that subsequently encourages them to think about where their food comes from, and how they can make healthy and sustainable choices as they grow up. Through collaborations with organisations such as Scotland the Bread, the pupils are also able to learn how to grow and harvest wheat sustainably, and learn to bake their own bread. Local school and nursery children are also regularly welcomed to our community gardens, where they are able to explore, and taste some of the produce on offer, again creating a fun experience centered around sustainable, seasonal community food growing and nutritious foods.
Working to tackle food insecurity
The produce grown in our gardens is regularly distributed to local food banks and community hubs, with the aim of ensuring that all local people have access to the healthy and nutritious food they need. Additionally, an important aspect of our Community Meals and Food Workshops is that they are free and accessible to anyone who would like to come along, with the aim of providing a pleasant environment to enjoy a nutritious meal for everyone in the community, regardless of background and financial circumstances.
The communities we work in often face the adverse impacts of our troubled food system, and so it is imperative that we continue to not only improve access to healthy, nutritious, sustainably and locally grown foods that can be enjoyed as a community, but also continue to create growing spaces where local communities can come together to learn the practical skills involved in food growing in order to foster meaning and pride in the food we eat.
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