- Vision and mission
- What we’ve been working on– Year 1
- What we’re planning – Year 2
- People and Funders
All people, regardless of income, enjoy nutritious, fresh, seasonal, and culturally appropriate food sourced from agroecological growers every day via the shortest possible supply chains.
To build and support collaborations that co-create the conditions for regenerative urban and peri-urban farming and food growing to thrive in the UK, as part of an integrated, resilient, & just food system.
Upscaling local food production is a perfect way for cities and towns to
- build a reliable, resilient food supply ready for when global supply chains collapse due to climate change, and to
- grow back better, into a more healthy, aware and empowered society after Covid.
What we’ve been working on – Years 1 & 2 (to Jan’ 2022)
The Urban Agriculture Consortium (UAC) started work in summer 2020 in the middle of lockdown. Everything has been done on-line – and so we are delighted to have been able to build such strong networks and trusting collaborations across the UK.
We started by convening discussions with our Core Oversight Group, and with potential Pathfinder Places across the UK, networking with food partnerships, food producers, community food networks, local groups, researchers, partners, NGOs, academics, and local and regional authorities in towns and cities to see what a resilient food systems would look like in an era of extreme climate events and Covid-19 social fracturing, and to explore models and processes which could be replicated elsewhere in the UK.
We are gaining, and contributing to, a greater strategic understanding of how to support urban food production, as well as providing tangible, practical benefits such as skill-sharing, project development, enterprise support, and policy influencing support for practitioners, local and national government, other key stakeholders.
In response to these consultations we have concentrated on:
- Setting up our Core Oversight Group (COG) and developing our vision, on how we work, and convening a Wider Interest Network Group (WING).
- Bringing together a cluster of five ‘pathfinder’ cities in the north of England to work together to develop solutions to shared challenges. (for more info on each go to Pathfinder Places)
- Developing our collaborations with many partners, working, fo example on new farmstarts withthe Landworkers Alliance.
- Piloting a series of PINGs – (Policy Influencers Network Groups) with local authorities and food partnerships. See https://www.urbanagriculture.org.uk/projects/influencing-policy/
During these phases we have been working with the pathfinders and COG in an iterative process where we help each other work out effective ways of doing things. We use the sociocratic decision-making guide of ‘good enough for now, safe enough to try’ and are integrating some elements of sociocracy into our facilitation and our thinking about the structure and processes of UAC.
As a result of the co-design process, we are focussing on the following areas:
- Dynamic Food Procurement
- Farmstarts, incubator and patchwork farms
- Creating a guide to Urban Agriculture typology
- Policy influencing with a focus on engaging with local authorities to embed policies that support
- Mapping land for food growing
- Community access to land for food growing
For more info on each go to Projects
Developing links in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (for more info on each go to Pathfinder Places).
We’ve advised the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) on the integration of local food production into the 20 minute Neighbourhood Framework briefing for UK Councils (for more info go to Resources).
Our people-centred evaluation helped us shape Year 2 – a futher evaluation is planned for spring 2022.
What we are planning – (Feb – June ’22)
We’ll be continuing with the above. Our ideas for year two are:
- Seeding collaborations and new pathfinder clusters across other regions in England starting inthe midlands
- Co-designing our work in Wales.
- Developing what we have started in Northern Ireland and Scotland
- Further developing our Policy Influencer Network Groups (PING) – a series of informal spaces for our partners working on policy influence to share experiences, learning, information and solidarity.
- Continue to support and develop the new Farmstarts, feasibility and beyond
- Collaborate with Incredible Edible C.I.C to explore access to Church of England land for regenerative food growing
- Bring together people who are mapping land for food growing in different parts of the UK to join up and coordinate
- Continue to support pathfinders in preparing for the introduction of systems of dynamic food procurement.
- Seeking further resources and funding to develop this collaborative work.
People and Funders
The UAC is coordinated by Jeremy Iles and Maddy Longhurst of Green Future Associates, which is the accountable body, and supported by our wonderful core oversight group (COG).
Biog info and pics here.
Our Core Oversight Group partners are Suzy Russel of the CSA Network, Andy Goldring of the Permaculture Association, Gareth Roberts of Regather and Sheffood (Sheffield), Nick Wier of the Open Food Network, Gary Mitchell of Open Newtown and the Food Policy Alliance Cymru (FPAC) and Chris Blythe (previously of UK Social Farms & Gardens, now independent).
This is a 3 year project (2020 – 2023) with core funding generously provided by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with a £199,000 grant. The Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation have granted £48,000 over three years to help our policy influencing work, and a further £30,000 has been offered by Necessity, to help us develop Farmstarts in the north of England pathfinder places.
Pilot phase 2016 – 2019
The pilot phase was carried out by Green Future Associates and funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We explored the opportunities and barriers to the upscaling of urban agriculture. We initially worked in Bristol, Greater Manchester and Sheffield and then widened our scope to include cities and towns across the UK.
We found a great deal of interest in urban farming and food growing, but also in nature-friendly agroecological principles, and in urban tree husbandry. We found a lack of policy support or understanding of the role of locally grown food in health, well-being, resilience, and social justice. Key recommendations were:
- Wider recognition and support for the type of enterprises that are creating more sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture systems.
- A multi-stakeholder assessment on how to apply an effective model of independent community-led finance model.
- An assessment of how to support current and prospective alternative and hi-tech urban food production schemes in meeting strong environmental and social ambitions.
- Support for local government in reviewing how their policies and strategies help or hinder the development of urban agriculture.
Thanks to Joy Carey, Katrin Hochberg and Maddy Longhurst for authoring these reports. (for more info go to Resources)