Food and Public Space in a Global City
The colloquium will be focused on one particular city – London – and will bring together the themes of food growing, ‘public’ space and the city to explore thought-provoking questions around food equity, access to public and semi-private space, and the ability of different socio-economic groups to establish their own interests in city planning and construction processes that have consequences for private and community-based food production and distribution (e.g. the provision and retention of community food growing spaces, the creation of productive and educative school grounds, the provision of housing with growing and food preparation spaces). The issue of food, food production and public spaces in cities is currently high on the political agenda. While urban agriculture has a long history, contemporary concerns over the environmental impacts of ‘food miles’ and our industrialised countryside, food security issues, together with growing recognition of the health, social and community benefits of gardening, are driving the issue of local urban food production up the political agenda. With waiting lists for allotments in Camden, for example, currently stretching to an estimated 40 years, and with the nation’s front gardens disappearing under tarmac car parking, attention is turning to the food growing potential of a multitude of overlooked and undervalued city sites.
The colloquium will include a walk and talk tour of new growing plots around Birkbeck College being established over the next year by the ‘Grow Birkbeck’ gardening group, following seed funding from the Capital Growth project.
Paul Smyth (Something & Son) – An Unrban Farming Experiment