AS I am sure Brian Lawson (Letters, May 12) is aware, there are many things that the Scottish Government are doing in-depth investigations on. I would sympathise with your reader if allotments and community food-growing was the one and only topic the government were working on, but it’s not. We may be a minority, only tens of thousands, but our contributions to the overall picture are many:

1) Allotments and growing your own food has proven to help physical health – less time spent with the NHS, and therefore we are effectively contributing to reduced NHS costs

2) As per 1) for mental health

3) We buy less from the shops, thus reducing our carbon footprint

4) We buy less from the shops, thus reducing plastic waste

5) Many of us grow excess food and donate to food banks and other such causes

6) Many of us work with the local community, especially schools, helping children understand the benefits of growing their own food, and so we contribute to their education – particularly biology, where the study of plants is a part

There are many more benefits to growing your own; many more people are discovering this. Wouldn’t it be good for Mr Lawson’s reference to Scottish independence if we were truly self-sufficient in many things – including growing our own?

Richard Crawford
Vice President and Secretary, Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society

READ MORE: Difficulty of getting allotments to be explored by Scottish Parliament

THE letters questioning the sense of the Scottish Government expending time on the matter of allotments are profoundly mistaken.

The primary purpose of gardening of any sort is to cultivate the topsoil, or in ecological terms maintain the biosphere which exists in the first few inches of the planet’s surface and supplies us one way or the other with all our food, the air we breathe, some of the water we drink and until recently our heating. The health of the topsoil will have fundamental influence on our struggle to survive global warming by its ability to contain carbon.

READ MORE: Scottish firm leads global partnership backing net zero pact

Translating this to the allotment, it is hard for me to understand how such an inexpensive institution can be considered unimportant. Its value as part of the urban fabric, its social importance, educational role and ecological importance are vital. Quiet, constructive exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. the process which involves the whole family in sowing seed and eventually harvesting, then preparing and enjoying food together has no substitute for creating well-being.

The extension of the principle to smallholdings where hens, bees and rabbits could be kept, and where more ambitious crops could be grown, is a first step towards the democratic use of land in Scotland. My own family is now on its fifth generation of plot holders. My own father was six feet tall, my eldest son is three inches taller, one grandchild is even more yet – all done on judicious use of compost and home cooking.

Iain WD Forde

THIS week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, providing an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health problems and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health.

The rise in such problems over recent years has previously been labelled as a mental health crisis and one of the greatest public health challenges of our times. These problems are even more worrying when they concern the mental fitness of our younger generations, and how we are preparing them to face the growing challenges of entering adulthood.

A study conducted during lockdown estimated that rates of probable mental health disorders in children and young people increased during the pandemic, from one in nine in 2017 to one in six in 2020. Against this backdrop, our mental health services are facing overwhelming and unprecedented pressures, which existed even before the pandemic and will become further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.

READ MORE: We need to have a talk about loneliness this Mental Health Awareness Week

This rapidly escalating numbers of those seeking support, faced with inadequate services, could potentially lead to a lost generation of vulnerable children and young people who are missing out on the support they vitally need. Against the perfect storm of a mental health crisis combined with a global pandemic, we must not lose sight of the challenges that our children and young people are facing, renewing our efforts in a national crusade to ensure that they receive adequate mental health support.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations

WHY don’t Julian Assange and Edward Snowden insist they were unaware they had leaked sensitive information, therefore are not guilty of breaking any laws? And when Boris (Pinocchio) Johnson says Scotland cannot have another referendum that must be a lie, giving us the green light to go ahead in 2023. Thanks, Boris.

H Murphy