LB Hounslow’s Grow for the Future project gets Government backing

Image above: Allotment in Chiswick

Up to 27-acres of wasteland to be transformed into ‘growing spaces’ in Hounslow

A project by LB Hounslow to turn unused sites across the borough into allotments, community gardens and orchards has received backing from the Government.

The Grow for the Future policy, which Hounslow Council says is the first of its kind in the country, has been allocated £165,000 from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The Council hopes the sites will provide cheap food for people in Hounslow and teach children about healthy living, sustainability and biodiversity.

Up to 27-acres of what is currently wasteland has been identified as suitable for potential use in the first phase of Grow for the Future – much of which is currently inaccessible or in some cases used for little more than fly-tipping.

Hounslow Council say this will help tackle the increase in demand for allotments and growing spaces since the pandemic and allow residents to cultivate their own fresh produce in the face of rocketing food costs.

Currently, there are 952 residents on the Council’s allotments waiting list. Recently, 2,000 allotment plots were filled in LB Hounslow, which now has one of the largest portfolios of allotments in London.

Image above: Chiswick School allotment

Schools to be paired up with growing sites

For the first-time ever in the UK, the Council will look to pair each new site with a local school and dedicate a portion of it to teach urban children, often in deprived areas, about where their food comes from.

The initial phase of Grow for the Future will look at unused council-owned land, but subsequent phases will assess unused and inaccessible private land that could be taken over by the Council and opened up to the public and schools as community growing spaces.

Hounslow Council expects to be able to create 500 new spaces for food growing from the first phase alone. It plans to bring online four new sites per year and expects the first sites to be ready this summer.

The council also plans to work with voluntary organisations in the community to help schools upkeep their plots and help teachers instruct kids on cultivating the land.

The UKSPF is part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, providing funding for local investment across the country and is supported in the capital by the Greater London Authority (GLA). The funds will help the council get the first sites identified as part of Grow for the Future off the ground before the programme is expanded more widely.

Image above: Cllr Salman Shaheen

Hundreds of growing spaces will help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis, says Council

Hounslow Council now hopes the grant will encourage councils across the country to come forward with similar initiatives.

Councillor Salman Shaheen, Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks & Leisure on Hounslow Council, said:

“Grow for the Future will provide hundreds of new growing spaces for Hounslow’s residents to put food on their plates as the cost-of-living crisis bites. We will take wasteland that has lain empty for years and put it to use equipping our children with vital life skills and educating them on biodiversity, sustainability and healthy living.

“I am delighted that the government and the GLA have given their backing to this unique new programme. I hope other councils across the country will be inspired to take unused land and open it up as a common treasury for all people.

“I want to give everyone in urban environments, young and old, so often disconnected from nature, the opportunity to cultivate land they can call their own and understand where our food comes from. To learn, and grow, for their future.”