What factors support and promote home-based food-growing in four neighbourhoods in SW Sheffield?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Recommendations

Education, Climate Change and Peak Oil
The correlation of food-growing to educational level is evident in the results. Those with at least a first degree are more likely to grow food. This would suggest that a means of addressing the needs of the less well educated should be developed, as it seems unlikely that the UK will somehow become a more educationally homogenous society. Hopefully, as home-based food-growing spreads among the better educated, their less educated neighbours are more likely to start growing. My results indicate that this is more likely to occur in neighbourhoods with high degrees of interaction and activism. But having a university degree is not the only factor relating to education.

Pursuing a university degree also appears to increase the likelihood of both food growing and activism according to my results. As the effects of peak oil begin to manifest, there is an opportunity, some might say even a responsibility, for the local universities to get involved with fostering community resilience through projects utilizing the creative energy and enthusiasm of their students to research and facilitate urban agriculture in general and specifically home-based food-growing in Sheffield.

The immediacy of the challenge presented by peak oil appears to be a factor in food-growing but less so than climate change. Perhaps, because of the higher level of education, the group of well educated growers is quite willing to extrapolate effects on food production from global warming, even though those effects are less well defined by science and media. There may also be a better understanding that the challenges presented by peak oil may be easier to deal with via a shift to organic agriculture or even paying more for food to facilitate continued industrial production and transportation. Climate change will present challenges that are far more difficult to address, e.g. the increasing aridity of Spain, where much of the winter produce for the UK is sourced. Agriculture cannot proceed without water. Even so, concern for food supply is still lower than for food prices.

Climate change is not only an issue of food security. If the UK switched to food produced entirely locally and organically it could reduce GHG emissions by 22%. (Stanley 2002 p.25) While that degree of change is not likely, as a nation attempting to meet ambitious emissions targets, a transition to consumption of locally produced organic food to whatever degree possible in the UK is advisable. Similarly, using oil to support agriculture is clearly unsustainable. People grew food without oil for millennia; there is no reason why they cannot do it again. Encouraging small-scale production of food in the home gardens of Sheffield will necessarily be a part of that effort.

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