He’s recently had success with his Fish Fight campaign, persuading supermarkets to ditch ecologically unsound fishing methods and opening the issue of discards up for debate at the European Parliament.
And now it seems crusading TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is helping to tackle antisocial behaviour in Britain, with a scheme that police say has reduced problems by over 50 per cent in one local area.
In 2009, Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage launched the Landshare initiative, a website encouraging local people with unused plots to make them available to those keen to grow their own food. Since then, projects have sprung up around the country, with a particular success story in Leigh in Wigan, where the scheme began.
According to local police, the communal allotment on Melrose Avenue has had a huge impact on life in the neighbourhood.
“This has been a wonderful project that gives children something positive, healthy and educational to do,” said PCSO Wendy Walters. “The allotment has undoubtedly contributed to a staggering 51 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour on the estate in the last year.”
And local residents agree. “The estate has seen a great improvement in antisocial behaviour since the allotment started,” said one. “The site gives children somewhere to go and something to do.”
It would be simplistic to suggest that allotments are the answer to society’s ills, but occupying the young and potentially disenfranchised with something they have a stake in – and from which they can see tangible results – is clearly a step in the right direction.
The Landshare website currently boasts over 60,000 members across Britain, and has even been licensed abroad, with new sites now launched in Australia and Canada.
To find land near you to grow on, or to offer land for others to use, visit landshare.net.