British look to gardening work for jobless on idle plots of land

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Can plots of derelict land in British cities be made to bloom again? Some of Britain's local authorities think so, and they are urging the government to reclaim derelict sites in various cities and open them for cultivation -- creating gardening work for some of the country's 2 million unemployed workers.

Faced with the rising costs of administering public services, many civic bodies are considering selling community-owned land that is in excess of current local needs.The Friends of the Earth and other environmentalist groups are urging town halls to open these sites for cultivation.

Environmentalists have said that thousands of acres could be cultivated in Britain's inner cities and that those acres could save the country many millions of pounds in food imports.

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It is believed that there are 150,000 people in the United Kingdom waiting to find allotments where they can grow their own vegetables. The list of would-be gardeners has grown by 30,000 in the past two years.

London alone has 16,000 people who are looking for a small plot of land, and who would be willing to pay an annual fee for its use. There are believed to be 110,000 derelict acres in England, 37,000 acres in Scotland, and 18,000 in Wales which could be developed as small gardens.

London started "town farms" a number of years ago, and many city dwellers appear to be interested in this activity as a means of saving on food bills.

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