Everyone’s doing it.
Buying land for their community. Land projects are springing up everywhere, especially on islands. Particularly Scottish islands, or so it seems. It appears to stem from, among other things, the need to take responsibility for the land around us, the need to take things into our own hands, often due to mismanagement and neglect by landowners in the past, and indeed by some of the mere 432 landowners who still own more than half the private land in Scotland. Scotland is behind the rest of Europe in it’s attempts to modernise and throw off the archaic laws still hampering the final demise of feudalism.
From the large, all island projects like Eigg, to smaller community garden areas on the mainland, places like Fairley, near Largs in Ayrshire, community land is no longer an idea held only by those with an interest in land reform. They are joined by a frankly, dissatisfied lot, with big dreams.
Many people have watched the dreaded creep of supermarket supremacy as it boils it’s way like lava down the high street, eating every little local shop in it’s path, and locking land up for god knows how long to rock solid retail. Others despair at the scarcity of proper healthy fruit and vegetables. The ‘Food is Free’ movement yells at us to realise there was a day when buying vegetables from a shop was a mark of wealth, or laziness.
Now, food products, take away, and processed conveinience foods are demonised by the very system that encouraged us to consume them in the first place, ‘Low fat’ and ‘Diet’ foods now being marketed at us instead. But, cultivating food and coming together in groups with a mutual goal brings health benefits beyond the consumption of the produce itself. I mean digging, of course. I mean vitamin D. I mean smiling, having fun, and a sense of satisfaction at the end of a busy day working in the sun with friends. It has been found that gardening and proper nutrition helps many illnessess, especially the now endemic and difficult to treat mental health issues.
Land owned by communities usually has a leisure element, people can get together and bike, hike, picnic, climb and walk in safety and fresh air. Children learn naturally, without technology, about the planet. Hands on. In real time. In real life.
Discovering what developers and landowners are about to do on your doorstep can become a constant and pointless task. Complaining about development sucks the joy out of communities. How much more fruitful to get together and buy a piece of land to set aside, secure in the knowledge that while a Tesco Express may pop up somewhere nearby, your children will at least know what proper food looks like.