Growing communities manifesto for feeding the city



For the first time in history there are more people living in cities than in rural areas. As we begin to face up to the challenges of climate change, peak oil and resource depletion, the issue of how urban populations can best be fed is increasingly urgent.Growing Communities is a social enterprise run by local people in North‐East London. We’ve been working in Hackney for over 10 years developing a practical mechanism for re‐localising the food systems supplying our area. In the process we’re creating an interconnected web of local people, farmers, urban growers, wholesalers, land and businesses which together have the potential to sustain us: a vibrant, community‐led system which provides us with good food, good friends and increasing numbers of us with good work. ‐led food project can provide a viable model for other urban communities who want to tackle climate change, make their communities more resilient and create something positive that can enrich their lives. WHAT’S THE PROBLEMCurrently the supermarkets and agri‐business control our food. The centralised and industrialised system they have developed has provided us with plentiful, cheap food but at enormous cost. Not only does the current food system account for at least 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions but because of its dependency on cheap fossil fuels, (for energy, transport and as the feedstocks for fertilizers and pesticides) it is extremely vulnerable to economic shocks including peak oil. Current food distribution is based around long centralised supply chains which function best when supplied by large monocultural farms. Industrialised farming has polluted our soil and water and displaced or eradicated native wildlife.

While what we are doing is tiny in the grand scheme of things, we want to find out if this small community

On an individual basis we are increasingly disconnected from our food, where it comes from and those that produce it. Most of us lack basic skills or understanding of growing, preparing and cooking food – all of which increases our dependency on a fragile food system. It turns out that much of the food created by this system is not very good for our health – obesity and other diet related health problems are affecting more and more of us. Not only is our current food system unsustainable, but it has turned us into a nation of passive consumers in a top down system from which we expect unlimited ‘choice’ but over which we have little control.

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