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

Monday, 4 May 2009

What do they need to grow more?

Land is the simple answer, land that is close to home and available in various sizes to suit the need and time available to work it. Those with a lack of higher education and a low income are much more likely to feel the need for more land in order to grow.

Allotments are not high on the list of desired assets. Waiting lists, transportation issues, the size of the commitment and the time needed to adequately utilise an allotment are all cited as reasons.

80% of those who grow only 1 food type or less feel that lack of land is a limitation to growing more. Only 43% of those express lack of time as a limitation, but time to garden is second only to land as a vital resource that is listed as being in short supply.

Life skills training, like that provided by the Foyer Project to homeless youths, can help to prioritise activities and avoid time wasting behaviour like television watching, shopping, and excessive online time. This should be included in school curricula.

One of the most personally surprising results from my research was the degree to which members of my cohort are cooking meals. This is a significant choice for healthy food. Even in households too short of time to grow food, time is taken to cook meals from fresh ingredients.

The degree to which households plan meals and cook from fresh is a good indicator of priorities, as both activities can improve the health and financial well being of the household. The fact that 83% of those who attest to needing more time for growing food, cook meals from fresh ingredients 60% of the time or more indicates to me a healthy set of priorities. They need strategies for improving their time efficiency. These households could benefit by participation in community garden schemes, compost delivery, and onsite evaluation and training.

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