FRESHLY grown fruit and veg from a therapeutic garden in Balloch will be taking centre stage at a competition aiming to see citizens from across all sections of society get access to fresh local produce.

The Veg Cities Chefs’ Challenge will see chefs from 16 cafes and restaurants in Glasgow receiving a ‘mystery’ box of vegetables grown in and around the city to create a plant-centred dish.

A number of the vegetables will be from the Balloch therapeutic garden which has been developed to allow social and therapeutic horticulture activities to be delivered to residents living with a range of additional support needs.

Natalie McCall, horticultural therapist, said she is proud of the achievements of the gardeners.

She added: “It has been so rewarding to see the development of the garden and for our team to enjoy their first growing season and to harvest their own produce which is now being used in this initiative.”

The competition has been organised by the Glasgow Community Food Network (GCFN) in partnership with the UK-wide Sustainable Food Cities network.

A panel of judges will compile a shortlist of eight finalists to take part in a live cook-off, where the winner will be decided by a panel of experts headed by Gary Maclean on October 10. GCFN chairwoman, Abi Mordin, said: “People may be surprised to see what can be grown in the city.

“At home and in restaurants and cafes, vegetables tend to be side-lined and treated as second-class compared to meat.

“If people see more vegetables on the menu they’re more likely to emulate that when cooking at home.”