There has been much publicity recently about people growing their own food.

A BBC Countryfile program featured planting communities, looking at the different ways food is being produced across the country.

Some four per cent of food in Britain comes from allotments and gardens. It cuts food miles, packaging, as well as contributing hugely to people’s mental health.

Growing your own really is a win win all round. There is the produce itself, which tastes great but also the whole process of nurturing of the plants right up to the final harvest.

For many having an allotment or being part of a community garden provides real value. There is the work in developing the plot, growing the crops and improving the soil. Many people put up their own sheds and green houses. They have water butts and raised beds. The whole thing becomes a circular process.

Allotment holders and gardeners improve the biodiversity around them. Many allotments have ponds and wild areas.

Then there are the people that you meet at the allotment. A whole community, with a shared interest in growing their own.

Allotments and gardens have played a huge role in keeping people sane over the difficult months of the pandemic.

Redbridge has a fantastic network of allotments running right across the borough – there is heavy demand, with most having waiting lists.

I have had an allotment at Redbridge Lane West for the past ten years. It has been a fantastic place to be – with good and bad years regarding the harvest.

There has been some consternation recently amongst the 40 plot holders at Redbridge Lane West, caused by the plans of gas company Cadent to use the site in order to do work on the neighbouring gas works.

Cadent have said they want to use the site for two years. Not surprisingly, plot holders have been upset, facing the possibility of loss of their treasured plots – even, if later restored.

Cadent, Redbridge Council and plot holders are in discussions at present, so hopefully, a resolution can be found that is agreeable to all sides.

There are many other exciting possibilities developing across the borough, like Transition Ilford’s Forest Garden and the Growing Communities project at the Walled Garden in Ray Park.

We need our growing spaces.

Ideally, the spaces for growing our own vegetables will increase as part of local efforts to improve biodiversity, counter climate change and save the planet.

Not forgetting, of course, the contribution that such activities make to everyone’s mental and physical health.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See