By Marcus Leach

Raymond Blanc and Joanna Lumley will launch the City of London’s one-off £2m grants programme to mark HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at a green pop-up space in Guildhall Yard, following the granting of the Freedom of the City of London to the two celebrities.

The ‘Growing Localities’ programme, delivered by the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust, will promote the use of green spaces and encourage people to grow their own food through community involvement and volunteering.

The programme will help reduce social isolation, teach the value of biodiversity and provide horticultural work training for young unemployed people and those with special needs.

“Our research shows that Britain is getting back to growing food again — and this initiative is to help groups that help people do this," Lord Mayor David Wootton said.

“Growing things is a profoundly nourishing experience — in every sense — and the City Corporation and its charity the City Bridge Trust wants to help embed the habit across the nation, helping thousands of people across a range of projects.”

City Bridge Trust Chairman Billy Dove said that the programme will be very much like a fork, with four prongs.

“Just like a garden fork, this programme has four prongs — promoting green spaces, growing food locally, bee-keeping and boosting horticultural apprenticeships — and we hope it will seed a national movement,” he said.

The polling commissioned by the City of London from Populus shows that Britain is becoming a nation of growers again as family budgets are squeezed. The poll results show:

- 31% of all GB adults now grow their own food
- One-in-six adults started growing their own food in the last four years
- 64% of adults interested in growing their own food would do so to save money
- 63% of 18-24 year olds would grow their own food if prices increase
- A renewed focus on staple foods, with tomatoes and potatoes top of the list

Her Majesty the Queen has agreed to be a Patron of the scheme and in her message of support said:

“The extent of the City of London Corporation’s charitable activity is renowned and I am delighted that through this programme, City Bridge Trust is encouraging local neighbourhood projects which will help the environment and offer work training opportunities for young people.”

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