Transition Edinburgh South is connected to a network of organisations that are passionate about food and that campaign for everybody’s right to good food. Our chair, Pat Abel is a trustee of Nourish Scotland which is a member of the Scottish Food Coalition which campaigns for a fair, sustainable and healthy food system. She is also on the on the steering group for Edible Edinburgh. TES are part of a movement that seeks transformation of the food system to more local and sutainable production and better access to healthy food for all. This campaigning has influenced the Good Food Nation bill which the Scottish government were committed to introducing in 2020 but it is now delayed by the coronavirus crisis. Sadly Covid 19 is increasing inequalities in access to healthy food as even more people rely on foodbanks. The crisis also highlights the importance of growing local fruit and vegetables as prices of imported food rise and supply problems increase.
Our main project, Gracemount Community Garden is about locally-grown food that is nutritious, delicious and grown organically in ways that help put carbon back in the soil and are good for wildlife. Agricultural techniques that rely on nitrogen-rich manufactured fertilizers do harm by adding gasses to the atmosphere that contribute to climate change and air pollution. The vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables are important for human health but the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables has declined in many parts of the world with intensive agriculture because the soil has been degraded. We believe that food should be grown in ways that look after the soil, giving us back more nutritious food and doing less harm to the diversity of insects, plants and animals.
Growing food is always also about having good food to eat. Transition Edinburgh South have organised food workshops, taster sessions and community meals to share the pleasure of food cooked from scratch using local fruit and vegetables, from garden to table. Our cooking workshops also gave tips about using left-overs and avoiding food waste and how to dispose of peelings and scraps that cannot be used to minimise harmful gasses. We no longer have access to a kitchen right next to our garden but we are finding other ways of working around this. In doing so we hope to help social change.
The pie chart below is about everything people eat, not just good food. It shows, more than half of food eaten in Britain comes from overseas. Even fruit and veg that grows well in the UK is often imported, for example, 7 out of every 10 apples eaten are grown elsewhere; we believe this pattern must change.
Chapter 14 – the food chain, Table 14.3 (2017):
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom [accessed 9 April 2018]
The City of Edinburgh Council has recently drawn up a draft food growing strategy for the city and plan to invite individuals and organisations to comment. This too is now delayed by covid 19. They want to:
- Reduce our carbon emissions as a city
- Support local food growing businesses to grow and thrive
- Increase land availability for food growing
- Reduce spatial inequalities across the city
- Increase awareness and choice around healthy and sustainable food
But the steps they suggest towards achieving this are often sketchy. We would like there to be more specific support for community gardens in the less wealthy areas of Edinburgh.