This groundbreaking 1996 report on the benefits of urban food growing contains 38 case studies from across the UK and beyond, showing how to take action yourself, and what government can do to help.
In early 1995, the National Food Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture, Food and the Environment (SAFE) Alliance (which later merged to become Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming) decided to manage jointly the development of the Growing Food in Cities project. It was clear to us and to our members that the significant benefits of urban food growing were being ignored and that opportunities for developing its potential were being missed. This, we felt, was due to a lack of recognition and support for the concept in certain sectors; suspicions which were confirmed early on in the preparation of this report.
The organisations represented on the working party, many of which have been involved in urban food growing for some time, believed that it could provide an effective means of addressing a range of inter-connnected social, economic and environmental concerns. There was, they felt, a clear need for a report which would highlight the considerable advantages of urban food growing and explore how their own work might provide a base on which to develop future initiatives.
It would be foolish to suggest that this is not a complex issue. Constraints to growing food in cities, such as access to land and water, and the question of soil contamination, are very real and are explored here. Yet case studies throughout the report show how obstacles have been effectively overcome. The challenge now is for local and national government, voluntary bodies, the private sector and citizens to take the ideas and recommendations contained in this report further. The goal is for more food to be grown in cities. This report vividly demonstrates that social, health, environmental and other benefits will follow.
Since this Growing Food in Cities, and the subsequent City Harvest report, Sustain and London Food Link have launched the Capital Growth campaign, aiming to support the creation of 2,012 new community food growing spaces for London by the end of 2012. In addition, Sustain launched in 2012 the Big Dig campaign to promote volunteering and community food growing in seven cities around the UK. We have also supported community food growers through the Making Local Food Work and Ethical Eats programmes to take an enterprising approach to growing and selling urban food, with publications such as:
- A Growing Trade: A guide for community groups growing food to sell in our towns and cities
- A Healthy Profit: A simple guide to pricing the food you make or grow
- The story of Moss Brook Growers - how to set up a horticultural enterprise from scratch
- Growing Manchester(s) Veg People - a guide to setting up a growers' and buyers' co-operative
- Growing Communities: manual of monitoring and evaluation
- Information Technology and small-scale food organisations: Is IT a nightmare?
- Growing Round the Houses: Food production on housing estates
Summary and recommendations
How to use this report
- Why grow food?
- Why in cities?
- Why now?
2.The benefits of growing food in cities
- affirming identity and active citizenship
- combating discrimination
- preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders
- training for jobs and for living
- creating local goods and services
- building an alternative economy
- learning at school
- acquiring skills beyond school
- involving people with special needs
- increasing biodiversity
- tackling waste
- reducing transport
- improving diets
- encouraging physical activity
- promoting mental health
- stimulating volunteering
- generating sustainable tourism
- developing arts and crafts
- reviving allotments
- diversifying parks
- regenerating housing developments
3. Taking action
Issues affecting food growers in cities
- money and other inputs
- people, knowledge and skills
- Sources of useful information
Growing Food In Cities: The benefits of urban agriculture in the UK
96pp - 1996 | 542Kb
1 Jan 1996
Capital Growth: The Capital Growth campaign, run by Sustain's London Food Link offers practical and financial support to communities around London to help more people grow more food, and to have greater access to land and growing spaces for community benefit. The Capital Bee project, part of Capital Growth, seeks pledges to promote bee-friendly behaviour, and supports establishment of community beehives.