Glasgow Harvest seeks to encourage food growing in the city

NVA run city-wide food-growing project SAGE

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Glasgow Harvest seeks to encourage food growing in the city

Ahead of the food/art celebration Glasgow Harvest, Kirstin Innes talks to Angus Farquahar of NVA about their involvement in Scotland’s growing Growing movement

Glasgow’s fast, urban, predominately tenement-based lifestyle has a lot going for it, but the city isn’t necessarily known as a haven for the green-fingered. That’s changing, slowly: from tomatoes in Toryglen to Maris Pipers in Maryhill, allotments and vegetable patches are springing up in the unlikeliest places.

It’s all thanks in part to public arts organisation NVA: their city-wide food-growing project SAGE (Sow and Grow Everywhere) has been running since May last year: portable growing containers designed by landscape architects ERZ have popped up on sites reclaimed from wasteland in Toryglen and Possil Park amongst others, and they’ll be celebrating the first fruits (and vegetables) of the project at a landmark event this weekend

‘If you think about how food is grown in most cities, it happens behind closed doors – in back gardens, on locked allotments,’ says Angus Farquhar, NVA’s Creative Director. ‘With SAGE, we want to bring people together, celebrate something communal about growing food and sharing it: the Glasgow Harvest is intended to be a very visible, secular, celebration of food growing, and of community.’

The idea behind the Glasgow Harvest is a day-long celebration of home-grown produce. As it’s billed as ‘Glasgow’s Biggest Open Air Meal’, all attendees are invited to bring a vegetarian dish based on food they’ve grown themselves, for free consumption, but, as it’s organised by NVA, it’s also an art event where playing with your food is definitely encouraged.

‘The Southside restaurant Cookie has been teaching local residents to make their own jam, and we’re encouraging them to bring a jar along, so we can create a giant, backlit, colour-coded glowing jam wall,’ says Farquhar, ‘And 85A [the young Glasgow art collective behind Govanhill Baths’ recent Sonic Soak festival] will install the Herbaceous Barber Shop complete with barber’s chair in the space: they give you these growing wigs of herbs that you can have cut into the punk hair-do of your choice. We’ll use the off-cuts – the sweepings – for flavouring a large pot of soup!’

They’ve got the local community involved too: schools, who’ve spent the last year growing potatoes through SAGE, will compete in the Double Rubble Chip Challenge, in which chip shop oweners decide whose potatoes make the finest supper. So where did the impetus to get creative with food come from?

‘Those first times you grow something are best times in worl,’ says Farquhar. ‘It’s a creative relationship, but you’re creating something you can eat! I wanted to support the growing movement in Scotland and came back to NVA and said let’s do some work around food growing. There are allotment spaces in Glasgow, but they’re mired in council waiting lists: we’re actually supporting communities to start producing their own food. It’s a wonderful, positive thing to do anyway, but it becomes particularly pertinent in a recession.’

The Glasgow Harvest, Hidden Gardens at Tramway, Sat 28 Aug, 12–6pm, free. For more information on Glasgow Harvest or SAGE, see www.nva.org.uk/new-projects

Glasgow Harvest

Public arts charity NVA builds on the success of the last Glasgow Harvest with an event celebrating the opening of a new community garden space, Greyfriars Garden. There are activities for the budding urban farmer (or those who fancy growing a few tomatoes in a window box), food to share, live music, cookery…

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