News: CLAS Cymru launches in Wales

New Land Advice Service Launched By Minister At Royal Welsh Show

A new initiative, aimed at helping landowners and community growers work together to reap the rewards of the ‘grow your own’ boom, received the Welsh Government’s seal of approval at the Royal Welsh Show this week.

The Community Land Advisory Service in Wales (CLAS Cymru) was launched by John Griffiths AM, Welsh Government Minister for Sport & Culture.  Guests also heard from award-winning farmer Lyndon Edwards from Chepstow, who talked about the benefits of having community growers using some of his land.

CLAS Cymru, funded by a five-year £600,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Climate Change Programme, will support and encourage hundreds of landowners and community groups to create food growing opportunities for thousands of people. It aims to tackle the on-going shortage of land for community growing in Wales and give a boost to the health and environmental benefits of locally-grown food. The Service will also help landowners, in both urban and rural areas, discover the potential benefits of letting or selling land to community-managed growing groups.

In total, CLAS Cymru will aim to provide specialist guidance and support to around 250 community food growing projects and directly benefit 5,000 people engaged in projects such as community gardens, farms, allotments and orchards. Health and better eating benefits will spread to an estimated 50,000 people.

Launching the initiative, Welsh Government Minister John Griffiths, said: “Getting communities gardening and growing helps improve quality of life, so it’s important that as many people as possible have the opportunity, and have access to the right land and the right skills. I intend to consult later this year on proposals for how changes to allotment legislation could complement efforts such as the Community Land Advisory Service”.

Organic dairy farmer Lyndon Edwards explained at the launch that his motivations for leasing out to the community were about connecting with his local community, which he regards as a duty of the farming community. He wanted to contribute something and look to improve the health and well-being of the local area. He receives 10 percent of the community growers produce as well as an annual fee. Plans are in motion to incorporate the produce into a farm shop and to start a community bartering scheme, he added.

The Service has been set up by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), a UK-wide charity that supports and promotes community green spaces.

Katie Jones, manager of the CLAS Cymru service, said: “Community growing is flourishing in Wales, but finding land can be a major hurdle. CLAS Cymru will support willing landowners, from local authorities to private individuals, to make more land available for cultivation by community groups. It will also help both landowners and land users navigate challenges such as planning law or lease arrangements.

“We want CLAS Cymru to be a catalyst for local action. We want our work to encourage more people to produce high quality, local produce in Wales through community growing, which in turn will reduce our impact on the climate and contribute to the creation of more sustainable and resilient communities.”

John Rose, Wales director for the Big Lottery Fund, said: "This award helps demonstrate the Big Lottery Fund's commitment to helping combat climate change. The funding will help empower people to grow their own food which will not only help boost community spirit but also increase skills and sustainability.”

Please note: Images of the event are available via Flickr.



© Community Land Advisory Service 2018