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Professor calls for public areas to be turned into 'edible spaces'

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Professor calls for public areas to be turned into 'edible spaces'


Published by Anonymous for in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government

Professor calls for public areas to be turned into 'edible spaces' Professor calls for public areas to be turned into 'edible spaces'

Public areas in cities should be turned into "edible spaces" which are used for growing food, a leading food policy expert urged today.

Professor Tim Lang, of the Centre for Food Policy at City University, London, called for fruit trees to be planted beside town roads and blackberry bushes to be grown in parks.

And he said areas of inner city estates and "green roofs" should be turned over to food production.

He said "fruit should be everywhere" as part of a bid to increase food grown in the UK's cities and the amount of fruit eaten by the British public.

There should also be an expansion of the amount of food grown in private gardens - particularly fruit trees which would not fall victim to slugs and a lack of light in the same way vegetables in urban gardens might.

Every garden could be a "traditional orchard" - a habitat threatened in the UK - he suggested.

Prof Lang, who coined the term "food miles" and who has recently taken over as president of organic gardening charity Garden Organic, said:
"One of my dreams for the coming period is to try and inject a view that public space can grow food.

"We're going to see a really exciting opportunity to inject a food growing dimension into even the most overtly built environment, let alone the green spaces in civic space.

"I want to see fruit trees planted down streets, fruit trees put into public parks when other trees go or are blown down by the hurricanes of climate change."

And he said: "If kids steal the apples, terrific. If people start looking at public space as growing space and reclaim it rather than retreating into private space, terrific."

Prof Lang pointed to a scheme in Middlesbrough, in which disused urban spaces were turned into areas for growing food and vegetables.

Parkland, town centre planters, council estate communal gardens and even window boxes were turned over to urban farming in a project involving schools, groups and individuals which culminated in a "town meal" with thousands sharing the fruits of their labours.

And in London, Garden Organic is involved in the Capital Growth scheme launched by the Mayor Boris Johnson earlier this year, which aims to provide 2,012 new food growing spaces by 2012.

Plots which have already been found include land on a housing estate, a private garden which will be opened to community volunteers, prison grounds, a patch of land belonging to a student halls of residence and a network of "micro-sites" for growing organic food.

Prof Lang said the need to grow more food in urban areas was not yet driven by "rampant food insecurity", although that might be a possibility in five to 10 years' time.

Instead he said he saw "growing food in cities as re-civilising cities", reconnecting ordinary people to where they lived and how their food was produced.

He also said gardening for food could enable people to take the exercise they needed and help avert the growing obesity crisis that the UK faces.



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