Supporting the development of a Community Food Hub in Glasgow’s East End

  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Society

University of Glasgow 


The sustainability of local food systems has global economic and environmental implications. University of Glasgow research has underpinned the establishment of a Community Food Hub in Dalmarnock, one of the City’s most deprived areas, which now supports sustainable local food production, healthy consumption, enhanced food knowledge and improved community cohesion.

Research focus

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.

Key findings

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.

Impact and outcomes

Based upon the two EU/Scottish Government-funded Social Innovation Fund projects:

  • University of Glasgow researchers and Baltic Street Adventure Playground have pioneered an award-winning Community Food Hub in Dalmarnock;
  • An area of once-derelict land has been transformed into a thriving community space, which now sustains an array of fresh produce to support communal cooking experiences and the provision of nutritious meals;
  • Baltic Street Adventure Playground is used throughout the year, particularly over school holidays, with over 7,400 visits and 15,000 meal portions served over summer 2019;
  • This child-focused project brings parents and guardians together with experienced growers in an area where fresh, affordable food is not always readily available;
  • The project’s raised beds and polytunnel now produce a range of fruit and vegetables from a growing area of approximately 250 square metres. The team of local growers added that: ‘carrots proved particularly popular with the children, who liked to pull them directly from the ground, wash them and eat them straight away’;
  • The produce grown on site is integrated into the daily menu in salads, pasta sauces and curries. It also supports informal learning experiences to develop participants’ knowledge of the food system and healthy eating. The produce grown locally is supplemented with food deliveries twice a week from FareShare.

Benefits to local residents who visit the Community Food Hub include:

  •  a space for experimentation with food that may be unfamiliar, or might otherwise be too expensive. One local resident said: ‘there’s all different things you can try […] gluten-free things […] there’s always so much variety that you can choose from and there’s people coming in and saying, “Oh my goodness, that will do me for three days, at least I’m going to have dinners for my kids for three days”;
  • a much-needed focal point for the community in an area with very few local amenities. Another local resident added: “the community’s starting to get back together, we’re starting to see each other again […] because we don’t have shops, you don’t really see anybody, but coming to the park, you bump into people that you’ve not seen for a long time”.

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