Sustainable production of food in urban areas
From 2013 onwards, against a backdrop of increased public interest in community gardening, a programme of University of Glasgow research investigated issues of sustainability through the development of community gardens and local food spaces.
The researchers examined the effects of community gardening on local residents and analysed the contribution of such initiatives to more sustainable forms of ‘prosumption’ (production and consumption) of food in urban areas.
The research indicated that community gardens and local food-growing initiatives demonstrated a wide range of benefits, including: enhanced community cohesion; improved wellbeing; increased knowledge of food; healthy consumption; and sustainable production.
However, many community gardens were precarious in terms of key management issues, including: reliable funding streams; their knowledge of similar initiatives beyond the local area; and their rights with respect to a changing legal environment.
Establishing the need for community food provision in Dalmarnock
The research also highlighted the proximity between the most disadvantaged communities in Glasgow and derelict land. This led to two EU/Scottish Government Social Innovation Fund projects. In Stage 1 in 2017, the researchers conducted interviews with local residents and identified the need for enhanced community food provision in Dalmarnock, an area of multiple deprivation in Glasgow’s East End.
This led to the Stage 2 project in 2018, which piloted a Community Food Hub in partnership with Baltic Street Adventure Playground, a local community organisation, and FareShare, the UK’s largest anti-food-waste charity. This ongoing project promotes informal learning through community food production, communal cooking and the provision of nutritious meals.