Growing communities

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Revision as of 08:08, 7 June 2018 by Tom Henfrey (talk | contribs) (added first Incredible Edible paragraph)

Different types of food-based community initiatives

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Detailed analysis of patterns of energy consumption in the Spanish agri-food system show both the need and prospects for sustainable degrowth in this sector. Industrialisation of production methods since the 1950s, combined with changes in how food travels from farm to plate (increased levels of transportation, processing, packaging, storage for unseasonal consumption and use of energy=intensive domestic methods for storing and preparing food), have dramatically reduced the energetic efficiency of food production in Spain. In the year 2000, the agri-food system in Spain consumed an estimated 1400PJ of energy, mostly from fossil fuels, in order to produce food with a total calorific value of 235PJ. In other words, the system consumed six times as much fossil fuel energy as that available in the food produced. The study concludes that a shift to sustainable agriculture would require a complete structural reorganisation of the agri-food system to one with a greater emphasis on organic, local and seasonal production and consumption.[1] This corresponds with existing prescriptions and actions around food on the part of many community-led initiatives,[2][3] such as permaculture,[4] Transition,[5] slow food, community-supported agriculture and others.

As important as enabling transition to a sustainable food production system is, detailed study of local food initiatives show this to be just one of their benefits. Incredible Edible began in the former industrial town of Todmorden in Northern England as a community response to decades of social, economic and infrastructural degradation. Identifying food as an inclusive issue (captured by the slogan "If you eat - you're in"), a group of residents came together to pioneer a method now referred to as 'gardening propaganda'. By converting unused, abandoned and derelict land in and around the town centre into public growing spaces, a group of concerned residents sought to inspire a sense of civic responsibility and empowerment among a largely disenchanted local population. Raised beds containing vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, from which anyone is free to help themselves, have become a familiar site in the town: on the platforms at the local railway station, along the side of roads and canals outside shops and in the front yard of the local police station. As well as raising awareness about cultivation, healthy eating and ecosystem services such as pollination, the project has achieved numerous social benefits: (Cite UCLAN study). Lack of external funding. Incredible Edible Network.

  1. Infante Amate, J., González de Molina, M., 2013. ‘Sustainable de-growth’ in agriculture and food: an agro-ecological perspective on Spain’s agri-food system (year 2000). Journal of Cleaner Production 38, 27–35.
  2. Seyfang, G., 2007. Growing sustainable consumption communities: The case of local organic food networks. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 27, 120–134.
  3. Kirwan, J., Ilbery, B., Maye, D., Carey, J., 2013. Grassroots social innovations and food localisation: An investigation of the Local Food programme in England. Global Environmental Change 23, 830–837.
  4. Mollison, B. and D. Holmgren, 1978. Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Tyalgum: Tagari Publications.
  5. Pinkerton, T. and R. Hopkins, 2009. Local Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community. Totnes: Green Books.