Hands up, I barely lift a finger. But I do help out on an allotment that I have the brass neck of referring to as "my allotment".

I weed and I plant seedlings and I harvest. I water. I get dirt in my fingernails and bugs in my gumboots and I have names for several of the greedy robins who perch boldly close, waiting for worms turned up by the soil. I like to grow Catriona variety potatoes because, well, of course I do.

I don't always behave well when faced with slugs.

READ MORE: How derelict land in the city could be used to tackle the Glasgow Effect

The bulk of the toil is done by my friend, though, whose allotment it most certainly is, and it's no light work, particularly on top of a full time job and other commitments. The crop you expect is rarely the crop you receive. Let us not dwell on this year's tomatoes.

So I was really interested in an academic study from the University of Glasgow's School of Geographical Earth Sciences that found the so-called Glasgow Effect - the elusive issue in the city that gives residents poorer health outcomes and a shorter life span than elsewhere in Europe - could be tackled by the increase in urban growing spaces.

Their research found 939 hectares of vacant and derelict land scattered across the city, with around 60% of the city’s population living within 500 metres of an unused space.

Transforming just 15 of these derelict sites, they said, into growing spaces would give 50% of residents access to fresh fruit and vegetables grown within a 10-minute walk from their home.

The Herald:

Turning 60 into urban growing spots would open that up to 70% of residents in the city, particularly in so-called "food deserts" where fresh food is expensive and not easy to come by.

This isn't news to Glasgow City Council. It is a legal requirement for local authorities to develop a food growing strategy. There is also considerable legal duties around allotments, if you can imagine such a thing.

I remember when some new allotments were being developed in East Renfrewshire about 10 years ago. A resident, whose home overlooked the site, phoned me in tears to complain about the dreadful, ramshackle sight insulting her vision every morning when she opened her bedroom curtains.

She wanted something done about it - including an expose in the paper. It was rather awkward as I had a joint share in one of the plots. I tried to put forward a gentle defence of the wonders taking place in the earth, the glorious seeds and green shoots bursting forth, but she would not be consoled.

I suppose, to the untrained eye, they do often look a confronting confusion, allotments. But behind it all are strict rules about constitutions, plot sizes and legal obligations on local authorities around plot allocation waiting times. Not that these are often met.

READ MORE: Esther McVey's Common Sense Minister role is the hardest job in politics

Anyway, Glasgow City Council is one local authority that's generally across the issue. Its food strategy identifies 250 sites around the city that could be suitable for growing food - including hedgerows, in parks, on disused sports grounds and orchards.

There's an orchard in Queen's Park, on Glasgow's south side, up a slope. It's always delightful to see kids there, picking the fruit. I'm not sure how many people know about it so it feels like treasure in the summer, strewn with juicy rubies. As the council pointed out to me, when I enquired, not everyone is keen on keeping an allotment so other growing opportunities are important too. South Seeds, again on Glasgow's south side, offers a number of raised beds each year for residents to grow produce on.

Greyfriars Community Garden on High Street in Glasgow - near the M8 junction and tantalisingly hidden off a busy road - is a little city centre oasis of raised beds for the same purpose, reclaiming derelict land there.

It's a neat idea: transform some land and allow people to grow their own. The benefits are multiple: healthy food, yes. But also a sense of community and company, friendship even. Physical health benefits of the labour involved, especially outdoors.

Awareness of the changing seasons and of the wildlife - you will become acquainted with foxes and squirrels and the many birds you must deter from eating your crops before you can.

I cannot speak more highly of allotment life but I hesitate to recommend it as a cure. Lack of access to affordable, fresh food is a result of political choices that target people living in socio-economically deprived areas.

Taking on urban growing - in any form - should be for function and for pleasure, not as a result of living in a society where citizens cannot afford to access the basics they need to live.