A ‘people’s rally’ is bringing community food growers together from all over London next weekend to create a charter for the “right to grow food” on public land.

It is being staged on April 27 for campaigners to “meet the challenges of urban food cultivation” for a more sustainable future.  

Speakers at the rally, staged by the Roots and Shoots organisation at Kennington in south London, include the founder of Incredible Edible gardening project Pam Warhurst who advocates a “right to grow” policy for local authorities to maintain public land suitable for community cultivation.

“People are one of our most under-used assets for climate and food security,” Pam insists. “Communities want to grow their own food.

“It’s time for local authorities to trust people to steward public land in the places they call home by giving them a ‘right to grow’.”

The idea would need community groups to be given free leases by the local council to cultivate plots and have the right to bid if the land is being sold off.

Green spaces in poorer areas are less likely to be protected against the bulldozers and developers than land in more affluent areas, campaigners fear.

Glyn Harries from Hackney’s Incredible Edible environment group in east London said: “Right to Grow can tackle food poverty and put healthy meals on the plates of people who need it most.

“Local food growing helps fight climate change by lowering our reliance on destructive modern agriculture which also endangers many species.”

London has lost 40 allotment sites to redevelopment in the lasts 10 years alone — yet urban agriculture has “the potential for food security to provide up to 20 per cent of our needs”, campaigners suggest.

Sustain food charity’s Rachel Dring points out: “Almost all food growing in London is under threat from development with land at a premium.

“It’s time to remove the red tape for Londoners to have space to grow their own food.” 

The citizens’ campaign has been gaining political traction, say its advocates, with support in the House of Lords. One local council in Yorkshire has become the first to pass a ‘Right to Grow’ motion, with others exploring the possibilities.