Good Food Stories: Right to Grow

Welcome to #GoodFoodStories Meet the Network! We’re doing a series of informal interviews with local food activists to showcase some of the great food work happening across Leeds with the aim of inspiring and building a good food movement.

First up is Dan Robinson from Incredible Edible Leeds, whose going to tell us about the Right to Grow campaign.

Hi Dan, tell us a bit about what you do.

Hi, I’m Dan Robinson. I head up Incredible Edible Leeds and I’m also on the board of the wider Incredible Edible Movement. Incredible Edible was set up to create kind, confident, and connected communities using the power of food. We work across communities, education and local business to show people where their food comes from and to enable people to lead happier, healthier lives by growing and eating local, healthy and sustainable food.

What is the right to grow. And why are you taking this approach?

It’s essentially what it says on the tin. It’s about giving ordinary citizens the right to grow food in the public realm. Lots of people want to grow their own food but don’t have the opportunity to do so for various reasons, including navigating the legal requirements and the red tape for accessing public land, which can be complicated. However, there’s a sense that both people within local authorities and ordinary citizens want to be part of the solution. And that’s where change comes from.

What’s been done so far?

A whole host of organisations have signed up to support Right to Grow including Sustain, the Food Ethics Council, and the Urban Agriculture Consortium, along with many sustainable food partnerships including FoodWise.

On the Incredible Edible website there’s a briefing for local authorities that lays out the benefits and the reasons for Right to Grow, including a draught motion that councils can put forward, and if they want to they can adopt it to have a Right Grow within their authority. Hull has recently done this and is the first local authority in the UK to do so.

What’s happening in parliament to support the Right to Grow?

In Parliament there’s been quite a lot of movement with an amendment tabled to the Levelling Up Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords that’s got cross-party support. However, legislation takes a long time as there’s a ping pong approach going backwards and forwards between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. So we’re also looking at introducing a 10 minute rule bill in the House of Commons, where an MP gets 10 minutes to pitch the idea. While this doesn’t create legislation, it gets people talking about it and it can move up the agenda.

What would be the impact of a successful Right to Grow bill?

It’s got so much potential! It would pave the way for more community food growing projects and all the benefits that comes with that, and more wildlife friendly spaces in urban areas. And more local, nutrient dense foods freely available for those who need it most.

What has Incredible Edible Leeds’ involvement been?

Changing the law is of course fundamental but there’s lots that can and must happen while we work towards that. I’d love to have that proof of concept taking place in West Yorkshire, starting with Leeds leading the way ahead of national policy.

We need to tell the stories that show the benefits, develop tools and resources to make implementing a Right to Grow practical and possible. We also need to ensure that it’s reaching and impacting the communities that would benefit most from increased access to fresh, freely available fruit and vegetables – that’s why we’ve been developing the Incredible Edible network across Leeds.

How can community members take action and join the movement towards the Right to Grow?

Anyone interested in accessing land for food growing or wanting to find out more can take a look at the Right to Grow page on our website. On there you can write to your local councillors and your MP to tell them about the campaign and ask them to support either a local Right to Grow motion in Leeds or legislation in Parliament.

Many areas of Leeds have Incredible Edible projects, so take a look at to see if there’s a project in your area that you can get involved with. And if there isn’t, let us know if you’d like to create one and we can help.