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

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Training and Charts #21 and #22

There were many more responses to question 27 because anyone, grower or not might answer it. After a bigger garden most folks need more time. 15 individuals indicated they needed both, 5 indicated that they not only needed both but better sunlight as well, 3 that they would like free compost delivery as well, 3 said they would grow more if their neighbours did as well, only 2 if they could get an allotment.

10 individuals indicated multiple needs regarding financial assistance, such as free advice and free compost, or if food prices keep rising and a free class on gardening. All 10 earn 30k or less. 6 of them indicated 3 or more financial needs, 5 of those earn 20k or less per household.

Another relevant group are those who indicated a need for more community support. Responses indicated are “I could borrow tools”, “my neighbours did as well”, and “I could get free advice”. I do not include gardening classes and free compost delivery because I see these as council rather than community responsibilities. Gardening classes would involve certification schemes such as NVQs and properly qualified instructors rather than something put together within a neighbourhood. At the neighbourhood level it qualifies as advice. Composting on a scale large enough to properly support large numbers of home gardeners would require a committed council to set up or contract out a scheme with proper technology, operations, regulation, and maintenance. For more on composting see below.

Of the 17 expressing a need for support, 12 households expressed a need for only one of the 3 community support types, 5 expressed a need for more than one. The most common request is the 11 needing free advice. Closely related is the need for neighbours who garden, 5 of whom expressed that need, while only 4 would like to borrow tools. 5 of the 17 do not grow any food, 4 of them expressed a need for more land. 4 of the 5 have zero to minimal experience with allotments; they all buy organic food 30% or less, the same is true for local food. All 5 have midrange or higher concerns about energy prices, all have 1st degree or higher. 4 of the 17 grow 1 type of food, 4 grow 2, 1 grows 3, and 3 grow 4 food types. The willingness to grow is there, but the supports to make it happen are not or are at least perceived to be lacking.

Community support is needed in the form of advice but land is the primary issue. The need for a bigger garden or an allotment is the chief restriction on food-growing amongst this cohort. Taken together, 44 households expressed land related reasons for not growing more food, almost 68% of respondents. 30 have university training, 14 do not. 59% of those surveyed with degrees perceive land to be a limitation to food-growing while 82% of those without university training see it that way. 17 of the 30 earn 30k or under, 56%, while 10 of the 14 less educated earn 30k or under, 71%. 8 of those 14 are growing nothing, 12 of the 14 are growing 1 or less food type. 33% of the 30 with degrees who cite lack of land as an issue, grow nothing, just over half grow 1 food type or less. Having a degree and a decent income appears to affect the perceptions of lack of land as a limitation. Doing without both appears to increase the perception that there is a barrier to access to land.

If we look at the overall group of those who grow no food, 23, we see 18, or 78%, who express lack of land as a limitation. Adding in those who grow only 1 food type the total number rises to 35, 28 of whom, 80%, express lack of land as a limitation. Only 43% express lack of time as a limitation.

Chart #21 shows gardening training pursued and is drawn from the questionnaires. Not surprisingly, the vast majority, growers or not, have watched a television gardening programme. Referencing a garden book was also fairly common; using the internet was less so. Though only 9% of residents surveyed had attended a gardening class, all those interviewed felt that hands on training would be valuable with some lecture or internet back up. Evenings and weekends being the best times for a class.

69% have been to the local city farm, though when I queried this in the interviews most felt the primary value was stress relief or an opportunity to show animals to children. Several spoke highly of the Farm’s courses, discontinued due to budget cuts, and most expressed a wish for access to advice or training at the Farm. In an interview with the most senior and experienced staff member I was told that there was no sure way to get growing advice but that if I could catch the chief grower onsite he would be happy to offer advice.

Chart #22 is drawn exclusively from the interviews and it is obvious that human contact either from family members or other gardeners has been of the most value in learning about food-growing. This is followed closely by practise. Reading, which included both books and magazines, comes next.

No comments:

Post a Comment