Despite the extensive areas of under-used green and brownfield land that remain in public ownership, little academic attention has thus far been given to the role of the public sector in utilising this resource for shared forms of community food growing. Building upon recent calls for more research targeted towards the governance of social innovation, but also the spaces and places in which it occurs, this paper presents an in-depth qualitative account of one such public sector-led attempt at instigating the co-production of community food growing. Guided by social innovation theory and Lipsky's (1980) street level bureaucracy, the discussion pays particular attention to the discretional practice of front line public sector workers. Whilst at one level public sector-led initiatives lack sufficient intention or scope for bringing about the transformation of existing social orders, their contribution to propagating individual and smaller scale occurrences of social innovation in the context of community food security should nevertheless not be overlooked. It is by adopting a more micro-level, situated and process orientated approach to the analysis of alternative forms of collaborative public sector-led community food growing, that it becomes possible to evidence the presence of innovative practice as it unfolds on the ground. Publisher Statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Franklin, A, Kovach, I & Csurgó, B 2017, 'Governing social innovation: Exploring the role of ‘discretionary practice' in the negotiation of shared spaces of community food growing' Sociologia Ruralis, vol 57, no. 4, pp. 439-458, which has been published in final form at https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/soru.12126 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.