Local food research

Food security

The coronavirus had a dramatic effect on food availability in the initial stages of lockdown in early 2020. Financial pressures from job losses and furlough, problems with supply chains and buying restrictions, and changes to shopping habits all contributed to an increased awareness of food issues. 42% of the population nationally say the outbreak changed how much they value food as an essential item and this led to a huge spike of interest in food growing. Organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society and seed companies reported a huge surge of web traffic and non-mainstream food suppliers such as food box deliveries and Community Supported Agriculture groups had to close to new members after being swamped with requests.

There are many levels on which to look at food security, from access and availability at an individual or household level to a more regional, national or even global level. Community food security is a relatively new term describing a situation in which all “community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.”

Local and community food growing, whether at home, on allotments or in shared growing spaces can play an important role in developing both community resilience and food security. Recent literature explores some of the benefits of community food growing, including higher rates of physical and mental well-being, greater food equality and nutritional intake, increased social inclusion, learning and employment opportunities and biodiversity and environmental benefits. An increased harvest yield can also lead to sharing and giving away of food through food banks or other social enterprises.

Food surveys

Over the summer of 2020 Landwise ran some research surveys around the topic of food. The reports are available below

The first was a review of allotment sites across Stroud district. The aim was to collect data on the scale of the sites, the make-up of the plot owners, and the extent of community amenities and activity.

The second was a survey of people’s awareness of and concerns about food security. It also gathered details on what food growing was taking place, and what barriers there might be to broader participation.

Please contact us if you have any questions about these reports.

The project was supported with funding from ThirtyPercy as part of Gloucestershire Funders.