WORRYING LOSS OF LAND USED FOR ALLOTMENTS IN MANY CITIES
New research by the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield has shown the amount of land used for urban allotments has dropped by 65% in half a century.
The decline has been much more dramatic in poorer areas, with such locations seeing eight times the amount of closures than the wealthiest neighbourhoods.
Using historical maps from the beginning of the 20th century to 2016 revealed just over a quarter of all the area historically recorded as allotments was still allotment land, and almost half being built on. Another quarter had become different types of green space.
The study, published in Landscape and Urban Planning, found the lost land could have grown an average of 2,500 tonnes of food per year in each city – Bristol, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea.
The team of academics said that councils have a legal obligation to provide enough growing space to meet demand. With some areas experiencing long waiting lists the researchers found that Southampton, Newcastle, Leicester and Sheffield would be able to meet current demand by restoring former allotments that have been converted to green space.
On average, three-quarters of this land was suitable for re-conversion with the potential to feed an extra 14,107 people.
Lead author Miriam Dobson said “With waiting lists growing ever longer, this trend of declining allotment land is worrying – but our research has shown that one way councils could meet demand is simply by restoring former sites”.
“Growing our own fruit and veg has huge benefits for people’s health and well-being and can contribute to local food security and improve our environment”.
“Our findings strengthen the case for preserving existing plots and boosting growing space, particularly in deprived areas, to share those benefits more fairly across our cities”.
An important point to raise with local councils.
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