Building community food knowledge, skills, resources and projects

City initiatives

Use the links below to see practical examples of how places around the UK are taking action.

1. Establish a network for community food activists

Bath Area Growers

Belfast Food Network

Bristol Food Network

Community Action Groups (Oxford)

Edible Edinburgh

Growing Birmingham

Kindling Trust (Greater Manchester)

Local Food Network (Carshalton)

Nourish Scotland

2. Map and make available assets

Birmingham Open Spaces Forum provides an online map to help people find their nearest open space or member group.

Lambeth’s Grow Brixton project is consulting with community to plan and implement the transformation of a large plot of disused land.

Nudge in Plymouth is a community benefit society that owns, creates and runs activity in disused, underused or unusual urban spaces. 

3. Incorporate food growing in local development

Brighton & Hove Council has adopted a Planning Advisory Note on incorporating community food growing into new residential developments.

Leeds' Low Impact Living Affordable Community (LILAC) and Chapeltown Cohousing developments include some or all of: built to the highest standards for sustainability, low CO2 emissions, access to allotment space on site, communal kitchen where there are 2 shared meals each week, shared car ownership and bikes are promoted for transportation.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has introduced planning policies (36.3.13) that recognise the role that locally grown food plays in reducing food miles.

4. Increase community food growing

Belfast’s Growing Communities Strategy aims to ensure all residents have the opportunity to participate in and experience the benefits of growing.

Carlisle's Lover’s Lane Community Garden: Dig for Dinner is a volunteer run community garden project whose vision is a broad audience, in particular encouraging families.  

HOME in Bridport project utilises arts and cultural work to engage families in behaviour change around shopping, cooking and food growing and employed 2 sessional gardeners.

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership’s Grow Food online resource provides a wealth of information on how to get involved in growing and their Harvest project helped triple the number of community gardens in the city. Sharing the Harvest is a follow-up project acting upon the idea that food growing can positively impact people’s health and happiness.

Transition Cambridge runs a Garden Share Scheme to links owners of underused gardens and gardeners looking for land to grow food on.

Kirklees’ Plant It Grow It Eat It project has an introductory guide for residents on how to make the most out of their allotment.

Kirkstall Community Garden in Leeds runs growing, cooking and other workshops on site and donate surplus food to local charities.

Lancaster Incredible Edible is nurturing neglected land and planting open access community gardens and orchards so that everyone can gather food for free.

Let’s Grow Black Country outreach programme delivers educational activities to help people of all ages learn about the benefits of growing and preparing food. 

Lewisham Council offers advice to all residents on getting involved in food growing and local community gardens.

Peterborough has developed a Wild Food Map to encourage individuals to harvest and forage local food resources.

Tower Hamlets' local Public Health department (p35) funded 15 community gardens across the Borough to help improve residents wellbeing by providing access to healthier food and creating community cohesion.  

5. Improve food education and engagement in schools

Bath and North East Somerset have produced a video on their food in schools programme, view it here.

Calderdale is one of a number of local authorities that have commissioned Soil Association Food for Life to work with schools in their areas. In Calderdale 75% of schools are engaging children in healthy eating, cooking, growing and farm visits.

London’s Food Growing Schools offers food growing expertise, information and support to inspire and equip every school in London to grow their own food.

Manchester Healthy Schools offers training, support and resources to schools to help improve children’s health, including through food.

6. Provide training opportunities on buying, cooking and nutrition

Bath’s Cook It programme works with parents and carers to improve the diet of children and young people by building cooking skills and confidence.

Birmingham Community HealthCare’s FoodNet staff provide nutrition training to children’s centres, nurseries and health visitors.

Brighton & Hove’s Community Cookery programme provides community-based cooking classes and other support to get people cooking.

Greenwich’s A Taste of Health deliver five week cookery clubs to increase participants’ healthy eating knowledge and skills.

Manchester Cracking Good Food provides cooking training to vulnerable, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach community groups. 

Good Food Oxford and LEAP trialed different cookery class teaching styles resulting in a new 'kitchen toolkit' approach that will enable people to cook from scratch more often, and to use fresh vegetables more confidently, with tastier results and on a budget. 

West Sussex's Cookery Champions sees volunteer community cookery champions delivering cookery sessions in the local community.

7. Change local authority policy and practice

Brent Council and Locality established The Meanwhile Foundation to make it easier for individuals and organisations to access empty space in their neighbourhood.

Grow Brixton project is the winner of a competition to make use of an empty space in Lambeth to create jobs and opportunities for local people.

Lambeth Council promotes food growing in its Local Plan (p9) and provides small grants, tools, capital and officer mentoring in support of this.

8. Help communities protect and take control of assets

Brighton used the Sustainable Communities Act to implement a change to rules governing the sale of produce from allotments.

South East London CAMRA is using the Sustainable Communities Act to designate pubs as assets of community value and halt them being turned into supermarkets.

Swansea Vetch veg is a city centre community garden and green space on a prime development site but protected by the Council for its community value.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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