Part 5: Good Food Growing, Community Gardens And Urban Farming – Increasing Sustainable Food Growing
Greater London Authority April 2018
Greater London Authority City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
(Must read. Mike)
The Mayor will use the new draft London Plan to help local authorities to support food growing networks and community food growing projects.
Promoting the multiple benefits of food growing for individuals and communities
The importance of food growing in community gardens, allotments, urban farms and other spaces in London cannot be overstated. In addition to the environmental benefits of urban food growing, knowing how food is grown is a key part of building people’s skills. Food growing can bring many benefits to individuals and communities. It can bring communities together, help people make new friends, make areas safer and healthier, and provide training which can lead to employment and improve physical and mental wellbeing.
In the last ten years the number of growing spaces in London and the number of people they have engaged has grown significantly. More than 2,700 new gardens have been set up in London as part of the Capital Growth network, with over 200,000 Londoners involved so far32. These gardens (which are in addition to hundreds of other allotments across London33) cover at least 79 hectares and are a vital part of the green network in London. As a result, London has one of the most thriving urban food growing networks in the world. These green spaces are in schools, housing estates and parks as well as on the peri-urban fringe. They support people to engage with nature, regenerate public land that might otherwise be neglected and produce locally grown food.
Urban farming and food growing projects also help to create social enterprises, boosting local economies and providing jobs and training. There are inspirational examples of this all over the capital, including Forty Hall Farm, Organiclea, Growing Communities Dagenham Farm, Sutton Community Farm, London Grown, Cultivate London and many others. It is important that green infrastructure is supported to enable this sector to continue to flourish.
By working with local authorities, private sector partners and food growing charities we can support urban farming and help all Londoners access community gardens so that the multiple benefits of food growing for both communities and individuals are realised.
How you can improve food growing
• Support food growing projects by buying from local box schemes and farmers’ markets.
• Try growing your own food.
• Volunteer at food growing projects.
• Ask your school to sign up to the Food Growing Schools London initiative.
• Get involved in a local community food growing project, or set one up with friends.
What the Mayor will do to deliver change
1. Through proposals in the new draft London Plan, highlight the importance of and the potential for more land for food growing, encourage local authorities to protect existing food growing spaces including allotments and encourage the provision of food growing spaces within new housing developments.
2. Promote urban greening, and ensure community food-growing spaces and areas for urban farming are integrated into new developments covered by London’s planning authorities through the new draft London Plan.
3. Continue to support the Capital Growth programme and other food growing networks to help promote the health, economic, environmental and community benefits of food growing.
4. Promote the contribution that food growing plays in providing skills and engagement which can increase social enterprise and job creation in the food sector, such as via Sustain’s Roots to Work programme.
5. Use the Growth Fund to invest in green infrastructure for the emerging urban farming sector to help London become a leader in urban agriculture and green circular economy jobs.
What the Mayor will do to support change
1. Protect and promote land and facilities for food growing, and encourage better use of urban space for food growing – for example, aquaponics and vertical growing – through supplementary planning guidance and local authority core strategies.
2. Use food to improve Londoners’ physical and mental well-being by using the London Food Board to explore the potential for health care professionals to increase the number of social prescriptions for fruit and vegetables and referrals to community food growing schemes.
Not everything that can be done to improve good food growing is within the Mayor’s powers but we can work together with partners to achieve more.
Priorities to be led by external partners
1. Local authorities and partners should continue to promote planting of fruit and nut trees in parks, green spaces, institutional grounds and streets following the inspiration of The Regent’s Park Allotment, Growing Communities’ Dagenham Farm and others across London.
2. Businesses and local authorities should consider how to link with local food growers so they can sell their produce.
3. Businesses and local authorities should sign up to growing projects such as Capital Growth which provide access to land and opportunities to fund projects, work with social housing, commit to community food growing within council planning policy and support related projects such as Food Growing Schools London.