London council to use wasteland to help educate children about growing food

A London borough council has launched a policy to educate children growing up in urban areas about healthy living by transforming wasteland into new allotments and orchards.

Hounslow Council said the “first-of-its-kind” policy would involve food being grown on unused land across the borough.

It added that much of the 27 acres of land identified in the first phase of its Grow for the Future project is currently inaccessible or in some cases “used for little more than fly-tipping”.

The west London council plans to open four new plots per year and expects the first to be ready for summer next year.

It said it would pair each plot with a local school and dedicate a portion of it to teach children growing up in the capital about where their food comes from.

The programme will initially involve unused council-owned land, but in 2025 the council will start assessing unused and inaccessible private land that could be leased or purchased and opened up to the public and schools as community growing spaces.

Grow for the Future project
Wasteland in Cranford identified for use as allotments (Salman Shaheen/PA)

Cllr Salman Shaheen, Hounslow Council cabinet member for parks, said: “Grow for the Future will provide hundreds of new growing spaces for Hounslow’s residents to put food on their plates.

“Land once going to waste will be repurposed to educate children on leading healthy lives and how to grow nutritious fruit and veg. And what our schools grow, they can donate to feed vulnerable children missing out on free school meals as the cost-of-living crisis bites.”

Hounslow Council said that demand for allotments continues to outstrip supply despite the borough having one of the largest portfolios of allotments in London with a total of around 1,950 plots.

There are currently 952 residents on Hounslow Council’s allotments waiting list.