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

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Preface, Abstract, Acknowlegements

The purpose of this thesis was to research home-based food-growing in four neighbourhoods in Sheffield utilizing primary research carried out by the author.
The chief areas of interest were:
• comparisons of the extent of food-growing in each neighbourhood based on education, income, and community involvement and activism,
• reasons for growing or not growing,
• level of concern regarding threats to food security from peak oil, climate change, and resulting instability brought on by rising prices,
• types of support needed for growing efforts,
• the potential for resiliency in the promotion and support of home-based food-growing,
• additional issues such as soil contamination, allotments, and related behaviours such as organic food consumption, exercise, health impacts and money saving efforts.
Context was established with literature review and primary research was conducted using a Grounded Theory model.
Using social research methods, including questionnaire, interview, and observation, four neighbourhoods in SW Sheffield were assessed to determine what factors are most likely to promote and support home-based food-growing. 68 questionnaires and 29 interviews were analysed. Each household interviewed was assessed for growing potential by measuring land area available, land area in food cultivation, solar resource, and availability of tools.
The hypotheses that emerged was that the group of people studied who grow food do not generally do so because they are concerned about food supply or to save money. They grow food primarily because they enjoy gardening, find it therapeutic and they want the freshest produce. They would appreciate access to more land to grow on but very few are interested in an allotment due to lack of proximity and time to adequately utilise one. Those who grow the most food are likely to have a university degree and be aware of threats to food security from peak oil and climate change. The most highly valued source of advice and training across the group are family members and other gardeners. Having a high level of personal community involvement and living within a neighbourhood that is active not only in growing but also socially is a key factor in the likelihood and/or the desire to grow food. The most successful growers live near and interact with other successful growers. Those who do not grow list lack of land and time as the primary reason, but the chances of growing are higher in neighbourhoods with more community involvement regardless of other factors.
Thanks to all who advised me and/or served on my peer review panel; Richard Clare, Anne Marie Culhane, Alaster Douglas, Heather Hunt, Dave Oxford, Maughan Pierce, Vanessa Senger, Jerry Simon, and Stephen Watts. Thanks to my thesis tutor Alison Pooley whose valued fortnightly advice kept me on track, to my thesis supervisor Melissa Taylor whose early encouragement insured perseverance, and to Bryony Benfield for her professionalism and reliability during my tenure at CAT. Thanks to Helen Sharma for putting in a good word for me when it counted and to Joan Randle for heeding it. Thanks to Graeme for advice, morale support and good cheer. Thanks especially to my wife Jacqui for giving me the time and support to do this degree, for transcribing the interviews, for her unbiased editing and proofing skills, and for encouraging me in the garden.

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