Growing food in towns and cities

Food production, processing and transportation is responsible for 8% of the average person's carbon (and 23% of their ecological) footprint. We can reduce this by using green space in towns and cities to grow our own fruit and veg.

The Cumberland Market Estate, London. Photo by Jane Sebire.

The Cumberland Market Estate, London. Photo by Jane Sebire.

Growing urban food in community orchards, market gardens, allotments and school grounds, as well as in private gardens, has numerous social, environmental and economic benefits. For example, it can reduce food miles and encourage people to eat more healthily.

Manchester Joint Health Unit food strategy aims to move from the old urban food system model, where food is produced outside the city, brought in, consumed, and the waste and packaging is disposed of outside of the city, to a ‘new’ model were some of the production is brought within the city and composting occurs within the city, creating a more closed loop system.

Incredible Edible Todmorden aims to make the West Yorkshire town self sufficient in vegetables by 2018. Ornamental planting in local parks, planters and flower beds have been replaced with vegetables, herbs and fruit.

In London, Capital Growth offers practical advice and support to communities that want to grown their own food, including getting access to land, and runs the Edible Estates competiton to find the best community food growing projects on London’s housing estates.

In Havana in Cuba a radical city-wide approach to urban agriculture has been pioneered for some years. Here food shortages were the driver for the government to establish an Urban Agricultural Department which oversaw the city’s transformation of much of the city’s open land into cultivation.

In England, local authorities can use local development frameworks and green infrastructure strategies to protect and allocate areas for allotments and urban food production. 


Middlesbrough Urban Growing

Photo by Groundwork North East

Middlesbrough Urban Growing

The Middlesbrough Urban Farming project tackles sustainable development, public health and eating issues via a programme of urban agriculture.

The Middlesbrough ‘town meal’ is the focal point for an annual programme of growing and harvesting - a major public event and a vehicle for community participation. Grow-zones on public land are one of the mechanisms used to produce local food.

Read more about Middlesbrough Urban Growing.



Priority: integrate green infrastructure into urban areas
Tags: green infrastructure, regions and subregions, cities and towns

CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield