After a fruitful and well-received first year in which over 70 peri-urban growers, invited guests and other participants shared their experiences, challenges and resources, the second year of the Peri-urban Practitioners Forum got off to a great start with a big survey of the previous year’s participants and a dedicated workshop at the Landworkers’ Alliance’s Land Skills Fair in late July.
Fringe Farming project partner, Rebecca Laughton from the Landworkers’ Alliance, was joined by her colleagues, Catherine McAndrew (Rebecca’s first year predecessor on the project) and Holly Tomlinson to host the first Year 2 event of the Peri-urban Practitioners Forum at the Land Skills Fair. The theme of the event was fittingly 'triumph over adversity' to both expose the challenges and celebrate the wonderful work of agroecological growers on city fringes.
Participants came from up and down the UK to share experiences from their local sites, common challenges and key policy recommendations. This was put in the context of the aims and plans of the Fringe Farming project to reach helpful ideas for where to take both the forums and the project next.
Examples of the many challenges came from some great peri-urban farms including Shillingford Organics, Blackrootz, Sutton Community Farm, Granville Community Kitchen* and Sadeh Farm. These included needing more land, facing possible evictions, struggles on the business end, such as finding routes to market and keeping a customer base, and the difficulties that come with being new to commercial food production.
Access to land, financial support and securing returns on produce have been common issues in the Forum’s first year, so it was not surprising that they cropped up again. In response, participants of the Land Skills Fair event had an appetite for more work at the policy level, connecting with local government and being active in political campaigning.
Specifically, workshop participants wanted the removal of the five-hectare lower limit for Government payments to farmers for environmental services, Greenbelt planning policy to encourage and support, rather than restrict, peri-urban farming and for local government policies more generally to prioritise food production, particularly at the city fringes.
In response to a survey that was sent out to all Year 1 participants of the Forum prior to the Land Skills Fair event, the forum will continue to meet mainly online every other month. This is to make them accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. Nonetheless, not everyone found online webinars accessible, so there will be occasional in-person meetings, farm visits and regional meet-ups. The Forum will (for now) continue until the current Fringe Farming project funding runs out in February 2023.
For more information about the Peri-urban Practitioners Forum, including how to join, please contact Rebecca - email@example.com
*Granville Community Kitchen are keen to put the word out that they are looking for land.
Published 17 Aug 2022
Fringe Farming: The Fringe Farming project is a collaboration with partners across the UK to understand barriers, identify land opportunities and local actions, and develop national policy to enable agroecological farming at the edge of cities as part of a green economic recovery.
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