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In June 2009 Roseanna Cunningham, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change intimated a need for a Grow Your Own Working Group (GYOWG).  The terms of reference of the GYOWG were to take forward that part of the Scottish Government’s Food and Drink Policy relating to growing your own food.

• Ensure that allotments and “grow your own” projects are strategically supported.
• Produce practical advice and best practice guidance that will appeal to public bodies, communities and individuals to help them develop local “grow your own” initiatives.

Growing of vegetables and fruit in allotments, community gardens and orchards on public, private, school, community and other types of land are all included in ‘Grow your Own’.

The first informal meeting took place in August 2009 and the first formal meeting on 11th November 2009. Membership of the GYOWG is open to any organisation interested in GYO and the first action of the GYOWG was to ensure that all those organisations had been notified of the existence of the Group and invite their presence.

Several meetings took place during 2010 under the aegis of the Scottish Government’s Food and Drink Industry Division. In May 2010 the Minister chaired a Summit on Grow Your Own. During the year, members of the GYOWG discussed ways to fulfil the actions from Recipe for Success. Reports were requested from organisations to support the terms of reference. The final meeting concentrated on producing a report under the headings of planning, legal, community land, skills, guidance, and funding. This report represents the first steps in fulfilling the aspirations of the GYO communities all over Scotland and is the product of the GYOWG.

This is just the beginning. Some recommendations need the approval of the Scottish Parliament, others need positive action from local authorities and the NHS, others require further work by the GYOWG, whilst some recommendations can be progressed unilaterally. Several recommendations have already been fulfilled, and the GYOWG is working on the others.

Update Nov 2013: over the last three years, the GYOWG has completed nearly a third of its original recommendations (30%) and the Group is actively working on another third of the recommendations (33%) at the moment.