Food in sustainable development

  • Madgwick, Della (PI)

    Project Details


    The concept of sustainable communities in the UK has led professionals in the built environment to embrace ideas about energy efficiency, waste recycling and water use with direction on these being included in policy documents such as UK Building Regulations. These regulations have begun to impact on designs for new developments within sustainable communities. As yet food, although being identified as a scarce resource in a period of rising population and climate change and despite being a significant contributor to carbon emissions, rarely features in government policies or is even considered by built environment professionals in their designs; it still being the assumption that people will buy their food.

    Drawing on a three year evaluation of Harvest Brighton and Hove a lottery-funded project to improve access to local food and embed sustainable food policies within an urban community and following on from a paper presented at Cobra 2010, this paper identifies how the urban food movement is beginning to influence policy makers in Brighton describing the new Planning Advisory Note and other key project outcomes. It provides planners, designers and developers with some innovative ideas about how food can successfully be included within the design processes for buildings and landscaping in the urban realm.

    The project aimed to

    > increase the amount of food produced locally by increasing the space available to produce food, enabling communities to manage land sustainably and increasing the productivity of the land
    > improve access to local food by increasing opportunities across the city to grow, taste and buy local produce
    > increase skills and confidence of local people in growing food
    > improve awareness of the benefits of growing, buying and eating local produce across all sections of the community
    > ensure strategies and guidance that support land use and infrastructure for urban agriculture are developed and implemented within the city and elsewhere

    Key findings

    There is still much to do learn regarding embedding sustainable food consumption within the city in its wider context but there are certain things which are beginning to happen for example an urban growing programme such as harvest can start to make better use of some of the land in urban areas if food is seen as a priority. In Brighton, much of this land to 280 RICS COBRA 2012 10-13.

    September 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada USA date has been local authority land and existing gardens but with increased research and innovation and using the Planning Advisory Note there is the as yet unexplored potential to develop this to private or commercial land and buildings. In addition the community composting scheme provides invaluable resources from existing city dwellers to ensure nutrients are fed back into the land and thereby continue to make it rich and fertile and Seedy Sundays encourage the swapping of seeds. The development of resilient new food systems in the city may add to its productivity. In reducing transport and packaging costs the growing of food within the city may help to conserve the fossil fuels. With its wide remit for education, harvest has not only tried to teach people to be better at growing but additionally encourage people to eat more healthily and respect biodiversity, it aims to add to, not replace an existing agricultural supply of food currently delivered to the city and can therefore assist in the increased demand which comes from the rising population.

    The Harvest project works with schools providing education on growing and on healthy foods, individual projects such as the scrumping project, regularly presses fruit at schools to demonstrate to children the pleasures of drinking fresh juice without additives. The wide extent of new community allotments encourage people to become more active and lead healthier life styles, the more people engaging in growing the more opportunities to cook from fresh and to understand fully the implications of eating high levels of meat, fat and sugar.

    Coherence between food, energy, environmental and health policies sits at the very heart of the project and policy influencing is a key out-put being achieved by academic evaluation critical appraisal and understanding of the key drivers behind the project. Certain plants which can be grown in cities may well become established as local products whilst it is still accepted that vast amounts of food will still be brought in to the city. Harvest produces via its web site a central place to co-ordinate activities regarding local food. In addition, increasing green roofs, balconies and green walls and creating green pathways through cities can increase bio-diversity. This paper aims to encourage researchers in the Built Environment to critically evaluate existing literature and ideas on ‘sustainable communities’ so that this research can be extended to contribute to the developing urban form.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/12


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