'Rising numbers' of Britons growing own food

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Joanna Lumley and Raymond Blanc at the launch
Image caption,
The campaign has celebrity backing

Nearly a third of British adults grow their own food, with many believing it to be healthier, a study suggests.

One in six adults have started growing their own food in the last four years, according to the poll commissioned by City of London.

Half (51%) of those surveyed said they would consider growing their own fruit vegetables and herbs - or growing more - if food prices rose further.

The online survey of 2,007 adults was conducted between 4 and 7 May.

Its figures have been weighted to reflect the British population.

The City of London has established a scheme to encourage young people to grow their own food.

The £2m grants programme, Growing Localities, was organised to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and launched by celebrity chef Raymond Blanc and actress Joanna Lumley.

Delivered by the City of London's City Bridge Trust charity, the programme aims to reduce social isolation, teach the value of biodiversity and provide horticultural work training for young unemployed people and those with special needs.

Lord Mayor David Wootton said: "Our research shows that Britain is getting back to growing food again and this initiative is to help groups that help people do this.

"Growing things is a profoundly nourishing experience - in every sense - and the City Corporation and its charity the City Bridge Trust wants to help embed the habit across the nation, helping thousands of people across a range of projects."

'Some fresh air'

A message of support from the Queen for the project said: "The extent of the City of London Corporation's charitable activity is renowned and I am delighted that through this programme, City Bridge Trust is encouraging local neighbourhood projects which will help the environment and offer work training opportunities for young people."

The Bensham Manor Allotment Society, in Croyden, Surrey, said it had seen an increase in demand for allotments, with about 30 people currently on its waiting list.

"Having an allotment used to be an old man's business but what's happened in recent years is local authorities have got quite strict about people not looking after their allotments properly," society chairwoman Sheila Prime said.

"People have relinquished their plots if they're not maintaining them and they've been divided in half to keep the waiting list down.

"A lot of young people are coming in and parents who want their kids to get some fresh air."

Earlier this week, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee warned that Britain's food system was failing.

In a report they said that fewer young people were being taught to grow or cook food.

The MPs recommended that new national planning policy guidelines be introduced to ensure communities have access to healthy food and land to grow their own produce

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