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

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Chart #3 Neighbourhood comparisons #2

Neighbourhood #3
With Asians, Turks, Britons, Africans, Chinese, students, seniors, families, and singles, N#3 was chosen for its diversity. It is also the least well off neighborhood in the cohort. 53% of those answering the income question on the survey are in the 20k or under group, whereas only 8% are in that bracket in N#4, 27% in N#1, and 47% in N#2. In spite of this, 73% of the surveyed households have a resident qualified up to at least first degree. Being a lower income area with significant amounts of council housing, there are several funded organisations with offices in the area addressing community issues. These organisations serve to unite the neighborhood and give the residents a forum. As a result, there are high levels of responses to queries regarding community activism.
The tenants and students are among the most active here. When asked about the primary reasons to grow, interviewee #22, a tenant, recent graduate and community activist responded, “To be self sufficient, to have some kind of support in this impending food crisis. To know we have something sustainable for a long period of time. Not just for me, but for whoever has the allotment next or who lives in this house next.” Interviewee #14, a tenant and student, spoke of the ethical considerations of growing and is spearheading a neighbourhood gardening group. Another tenant has now started a community garden for his housing estate. In fact every tenant in N#3 that I interviewed expressed some sort of involvement or interest in community issues.
This neighborhood has the smallest gardens, averaging 26.5m2 with 2.2m2 in food production, and the worst average solar resource at 5.3 out of 10. Only 2 of the 8 houses interviewed have any southerly exposure. As in N#2, only 5 know a neighbour who grows at least 1 type of food while 13 of 23 surveyed are actually growing food. Every household interviewed except 2 has tools available.
This neighborhood is anything but insular; it hosts several street festivals a year and there are often people on the street. Several of those interviewed expressed the opinion that the neighborhood is very active and aware, including politically. Every single individual I interviewed in this neighborhood stated that they have been or are active in the community. All 4 of those interviewees who grow or have grown stated that they have noticed an influence attributable to food-growing, whether theirs or not. 5 of the interviewees state that they have noticed and been influenced in some way by neighbours’ food-growing.
Neighbourhood #4
This neighborhood is active, highly organised and the wealthiest one I researched. Of the 12 who answered the income question, 10 are in the 31k or higher brackets with 6 in the 71k or higher bracket. Everyone knows their neighbors. They have the largest gardens, averaging 174m2 with an average of 18m2 in food cultivation. 5 of the 7 households interviewed have southerly exposure. The solar resource is slightly behind N#1’s at an average 7.6 out of 10. Every house interviewed has tools available. 3 practise vermiculture, 5 practise RWH, 6 practise composting.
While having 37% more garden space compared to N#1 the growers in this neighbourhood have on average 56% more area planted in food. However, only 1 surveyed in this neighbourhood has and is active on an allotment while in N#1, 4 are working an allotment, 3 of them are working more than one. There is another striking difference between these 2 neighbourhoods. Both are very community orientated and active but in very different ways. N#1 is committed to community activism while N#4, though not disengaged from community activism, is more involved in social gatherings like Christmas parties, jam making, open garden days, mums’ support groups, and coffee mornings. They are highly organised around growing food.
They have banded together to purchase a shredder and have 3 other tool and resource sharing schemes. When one elder gardener fell ill, a neighbouring couple stepped in to keep his garden in veggies.
While they all grow food, only 4 of the 7 interviewees in this neighbourhood stated that they had either been asked for advice or influenced others in the neighbourhood to grow food. Interviewee #19 said he does not participate in the neighbourhood social gatherings. The other 3 do participate, or have done, and may underestimate the influence potential of simply being another food grower in a neighbourhood of food growers. Interviewee #27 said, “We are British; we don’t talk to our neighbours”, I assume in jest, as there is every indication in the rest of her interview that she does. Only 2 of the 7 said neighbours who grow food had influenced them.

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