Environmental Projects (Schools)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Rural Affairs and the Environment – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 28 June 2007.

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Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat 2:15, 28 June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what it is doing to support environmental projects, based on the living garden approach, in schools. (S3O-385)

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

I was pleased to support the living garden approach by visiting the living garden earlier this month at gardening Scotland.

The living garden was a show garden and information village that was put together by the garden for life forum to demonstrate how to put garden for life principles into practice by using peat-free compost, by planting for wildlife, by growing food in the garden, and by dedicating an area to recycling and composting.

The Scottish Government is a member of the garden for life forum, along with a range of conservation, environmental and health charities, horticultural organisations and Scottish Natural Heritage. The aims of the forum are to increase enjoyment and understanding of biodiversity, to support action by gardeners for the benefit of Scotland's biodiversity, and to promote the benefits of gardening for health and well-being.

Grounds for Learning, one of the forum partners, offers help and advice to schools on all aspects of school grounds development for biodiversity. It is important to note that the Scottish Government actively supports the eco-schools programme, which includes modules on biodiversity and developing school grounds as outdoor classrooms to enhance pupils' interaction with, and understanding of, the natural world.

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat

Given the widely acknowledged dietary deficiencies in Scotland. I am sure that the minister will recognise that the hungry for success initiative has played a significant role in dietary awareness and improvement. Will the minister consider including an expansion of support for that initiative in the biodiversity schemes to which he just referred, as well as in school allotments schemes?

Photo of Michael Russell Michael Russell Scottish National Party

Certainly. The issue of local food becomes ever more local when young people are involved in growing it for themselves. It is an important matter for this Government. We acknowledge the importance of the hungry for success programme and its achievements. Just this morning, the cabinet secretary and I met a range of environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth. One of its priorities is to stress the importance of growing fruit and vegetables for oneself in gardens or allotments.

I am aware of the strong pressure from the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society in its report, "Growing Scotland", which I read with great interest. It talks about the need for more allotments. Although that is a matter for local authorities and others, it is actively supported.