Must Try Harder! (Earth in Common’s Report on Leith Links Community Council Hustings)


Candidates were questioned by Earth in Common via Leith Links Community Councillor Michael Trail. Lorna Slater, Co-Leader of the Greens and candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith, said that she suspects we (Earth-in-Commoners) are radicals. Coming from the Greens, we take that to be a badge of honour…

We asked:

1. What do candidates think of the ability of the food system to have cross-cutting solutions for local communities?

2. Why subsidies for sheep, and not farming subsidies for fruit and vegetables?

Significant contributions to solving the biodiversity crisis (and other problems) are being advanced in cities

The Greens: missing a trick

In response, Ms Slater spoke about agricultural and food policy which can help tackle climate change and the nature emergency, and mentioned the move to focus resources into rural areas. However, this should not be at the expense of what has been achieved in cities…

We point out that the Greens’ very own brainchild, the Climate Challenge Fund, has not yet been renewed, casting many city projects adrift. This fund has made farming in cities possible across all of Scotland, and the withdrawal of this support would be a major mistake.

We passionately share Lorna’s view that agricultural reform can make a huge positive impact on nature and climate, but when she spoke it sounded as though it was something happening entirely outside of the city – a rural matter – yet it is important to remember that a significant contribution to solving the biodiversity crisis (and other problems) is advancing in cities.

If you require evidence, look no further than our very own survey, which found that:

'an urban community growing area can be a rich haven of agrobiodiversity, supporting agroecological production as well as [offering] other benefits to growers, to the community and to overall biodiversity'

Hodgkin T. (2020), Review of Croft Diversity

This is a phenomenal report that we could not be prouder of!

Leith Croft is a rich haven of agrodiversity

The Food and Farming Bill from the Greens is dearly welcomed. It’s nearly as radical as ours would be. Of course we agree that we need to put more money into rural farms to tackle the nature emergency and halt the decline in natural world. However, we’d expect you to be calling for quadrupling the pot of money available, rather than what appears to be a good old-fashioned robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul or, in this case, robbing-city-to-support-rural.

Furthermore, city work in this area is inextricably linked to rural food producers. It is not some detached matter. While we are creating city jobs growing food, we are also aligning ourselves with ethical rural producers in the wider region, providing them with an important retail outlet outside of the supermarket monopoly. We cannot grow everything we wish to provide to the local residents ourselves, so we buy in others’ produce. We are not competing with them, but helping them grow the market for sustainable and healthy food.

Working together on the land is a great way to build relationships and strengthen communities

Patchwork farms across cities are vital, not simply to feed the nation but also to raise city morale, to forge community, to quench the boredom and tackle the isolation that contribute to a sense of lack of purpose, depression and addiction. Yes, if you join the dots, you can see that people in the city are bored to tears by the meaningless consumption foisted upon them in our consumerist neoliberal society. We provide jobs with meaning and purpose, which in turn generate community pride.