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Organic food specialist to expand business with new 'urban garden' in Glasgow

·4-min read
Locavore said it hoped to create a leading urban food growing site in Glasgow
Locavore said it hoped to create a leading urban food growing site in Glasgow

An organic food specialist is to create an urban garden in Glasgow after securing a 20-year-lease on a prime site in the south of the city that will allow it to expand the business.

Locavore said it had been in discussions with the council for five-years to take over Bellahouston Nursery, a former plant nursery within the park.

The company, which has expanded rapidly and now has five Scottish stores, plans to offer community growing plots as well as "scaling up" its own commercial operation as a hyper-local supplier of organic flowers, fruit and vegetables.

The owners said they hoped to create a leading urban growing site in Glasgow amid growing interest in food sustainability and long-running shortages of urban allotments.

The cost of living crisis is also said to be fuelling a rise in the numbers of people growing their own food.

Locavore founder Reuben Chesters said: "The need for more sustainable food is only going to get more important.

"There needs to a whole system change in how it's done but there is also a big appetite for people to do a little bit themselves as well.

"There are all sorts of benefits to growing a bit of your own food and that includes saving money but it's also the activity of it and the social aspect."

Locavore will have the right to renew the lease for a further 20 years.


"This gives us long term security of the site and allows us to plan and invest for the long term to create a leading urban food growing site in Glasgow," said the owner.

"Our plan for the site includes creating space for community and individual growing plots as well as scaling up our own commercial growing of organic flowers and fruit and vegetables.

"With an acre of greenhouse, outdoor space and polytunnels it will let us really scale up hyper-local food growing in Glasgow and create a hub for sustainable food activities.


He said the individual plots would be suitable for beginner growers and will be offered on a pay what you can afford basis.

"These are quite small plots and we think of them as the type of plot you would take on to grow vegetables for the first time.

"It's within a supportive environment and we have a community gardener who is there to give advice about transplanting and harvesting.

"It's not for someone who is looking to become self-sufficient."

The company is also keen to hear from start up and mico-businesses interested in food sustainibility and added: "We are very thankful to Glasgow City Council for finally getting to this point with us and also for funding that they have provided us to get started on the site."

Locavore now operates five Scottish stores with three in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh and Kirkintilloch and also runs a wholesale operation with growing sites in Neilston and Bellahouston.

The new nursery will allow the firm to increase production of its vegetable delivery box service.

"We've been expanding fast," said Mr Chesters. "It's not all rosy, we have seen the financial pinch translating into our sales being doing a bit.

"It's a difficult time for most businesses."

He said there was "no getting away from the fact" that the higher cost of organic fruit and vegetables are a barrier to greater public consumption.

"We try to make it as affordable as possible and in some areas we do a really good job of that but it is unfortunately the case that if you do everything right in our economy it costs more than if you cut lots of corners.

"People have wages based on people who are cutting lots of corners. That's the world we live in.

"I've seen how it works much better in other countries in terms of the policy and support in place.

"There are baby steps in the right direction but when you have what you have now, probably of a recession being masked by inflation then not everybody is able to put their principles ahead of the heat or eat dilemma."

The locavore or local food movement aims to encourages the consumption of local, seasonal produce to benefit the environment and population health.

According to the movement, 160km is the further distance that food should travel to reach the plate.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "“We are delighted to have agreed a long-term lease with Locavore for the former Bellahouston Plant Nursery.

"The recently approved Glasgow Climate Plan and Food Growing Strategy sets out a clear path for the council and the city’s communities to come together to enhance and protect our environment, while also encouraging food to be grown locally and creating opportunities for residents and a range of groups to become more actively involved in these programmes.

"These activities will allow Glasgow to become more sustainable on a number of levels and supports our aim of attaining net-zero carbon by 2030, and in addition will bring not only economic and environmental benefits to the city, and improve our health and wellbeing.”

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