Good Food Movement

Building public awareness, active food citizenship and a local good food movement.

We believe that to drive a shift towards healthier and more sustainable food requires high public awareness of food issues and widespread participation in food-related activity, by both individuals and institutions, as part of a growing movement of active food citizenship. Key to achieving this are: communications and events that can inspire people about the role, importance and joy of good food; practical engagement opportunities such as growing, cooking and sharing food in every community; and a facilitated network through which food actors of every kind can connect and collaborate on-line and in person as part of a local good food movement.

Inspire and engage the public about good food

Many local food partnerships have also secured press coverage over the years, a few examples in: Bristol Post, North Edinburgh News, Hull Daily Mail.

Many local food partnerships have developed comprehensive web sites and social media platforms to promote healthy and sustainable food and connect food activists in their cities.

Take a look at the SFP YouTube channel for great videos produced by SFP Network members.

Cambridge's WWII Rationing Challenge innovates in getting people thinking about and taking up healthy and sustainable diets. Cambridge is making use of many other tools to raise public awareness many ways of raising public awareness (p6) of food, health and sustainability issues.

Bristol Food Network and Bristol Food Policy Council have produced excellent short films to support their Bristol Good Food message and plan.

Liverpool Food for Real film festival seeks to explore the environmental, cultural and political impacts of the foods we grow, eat, waste and share.

Listen to a radio interview of Emily O’Brien, Project Manager at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership who offers us a definition of food poverty and discusses how Brighton & Hove is working as a city to address this increasing problem.

Watch Belfast Food Network's Kerry Melville discuss the partnership's food poverty work on local TV.

Watch Sustainable Food Lancashire's Kay Johnson on Lancashire Headline News discussing Food Champions project. 

Preston hosted ‘Feast for Peace’ an event that gathered over 1,000 people and enjoyed significant press coverage. The idea was to use food and cooking as a way to celebrate the city’s cultural diversity.

Liverpool Food for Real film festival seeks to explore the environmental, cultural and political impacts of the foods we grow, eat, waste and share.

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership’s Volunteer recruitment programme & directory of community food initiatives

Bristol Food Network’s Get Growing garden trail and Good Food Guide.

London’s Capital Growth space finder maps hundreds of growing spaces across the city where volunteers can get involved.

Bristol's Going for Gold campaign is a city-wide action in support of healthy and sustainable food. It has inspired over 1,200 individuals and hundreds of organisations to take action locally.

FoodWise Leeds campaign unifies and inspires individual and organisational action across the city in support of healthy and sustainable food.

Building Local Food Systems - A toolkit (Food Matters) includes ideas on how to get people practically involved and tips on effective communications and campaigning.

Food Mythbusters creates films to spark public discussion about key food issues and the sustainability of our food system.

Food Statistics Pocketbook (Defra) provides a regularly updated overview and some useful statistical information on the UK food system.

Food Systems Academy - an open education resource to increase your understanding of our food systems through online talks and analysis from international experts.

Can Do Guide provides resources for organising a voluntary event.

Food for Life Get Togethers programme offers a range of resources to help you organise intergenerational events bringing people together through food.

Sustain has produced a Good Food Guide for Festival and Street-food Caterers - how to serve up sustainable food.

Good to Grow maps opportunities for people to get involved in community gardens across the UK.

International Conference on Nutrition background paper. 2013. ‘Promoting healthy diets through nutrition education and changes in the food environment: an international review of actions and their effectiveness”’ FAO. 72 pages http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3235e/i3235e.pdf

The study found that actions tend to be most effective when they involve multiple components; e.g., information provision, behaviour change communication (including skills training), and policies to change the food environment (p47).

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. April 2016. ‘Barriers to Healthy Food’. Houses of Parliament. 7 pages. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0522

Identifies education and information as a fundamental intervention to improve diets including campaigns; school-based interventions involving cooking and nutritional education; life-style interventions with dietary components; and improving cooking skills in the adult population (p3).

UNICEF UK. “Research on the impact of the Baby Friendly Initiative”, via website of UNICEF UK. Accessed on 25th Feb 2020 https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/news-and-research/baby-friendly-research/research-on-the-impact-of-the-baby-friendly-initiative/

A compilation of independent research on the impact of the Baby Friendly Initiative finds, amongst other conclusions that:

  1. breastfeeding is a major contributor to public health and has an important role to play in reducing health inequalities (artificially fed babies are at greater risk of allergic disease (eczema, asthma and wheezing), type 1 and type 2 diabetes and obesity);
  2. that for just five illnesses, moderate increases in breastfeeding would translate into cost savings for the NHS of £40 million and tens of thousands of fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations.

Get involved in a campaign

Organisations

Sustain represents nearly 100 national public interest organisations working to promote healthy, sustainable, local and ethical food. 

 

Foster food citizenship and a local good food movement

Good Food Oxford and the Community Action Groups Project in Oxfordshire who support, fund and advise groups of people to organise events and projects on various topics related to climate change including food, waste, biodiversity and social justice.

Incredible Edible Middlesbrough provides an online space where community food activists can come together and where information and resources can be shared amongst community groups. It provides peer learning, training and accesses funding for projects.

Kindling Trust in Greater Manchester

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

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

Manchester City Council (p53) and partners granted residents free use of a previously derelict site for a meanwhile growing project. The site has since won awards for: its social and environmental value; improved relationships between the community and public and private organisations; improved social cohesion; development of residents’ skills and increased fruit and vegetable intake as well as physical and mental health.

Bristol City Council worked in 2015 on policy and procedures to enable further land to be brought into food production, subject to internal and external consultations. This included a process for assessing i) the suitability of land and ii) the suitability of applicants to match them with land. Draft procedures were tested on some small areas of Housing land and Grazing land. Groups wishing to grow food in parks are supported by the Edible Parks and Open Spaces Policy, for which there is a specially designed tenancy agreement. The Council is also signposting applicants for growing land to the Bristol Food Producers ‘land seekers survey’ to match up land requests from potential food growing businesses and individuals and social enterprises with disused council-owned land. Some pilot sites were tested as part of this process. (see Bristol Method: ‘How to encourage food production in the city’ – https://www.bristolfoodnetwork.org/blog/bristol-methodere-in-bristol/)

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.

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 LB of Tower Hamlets Public Health department commissioned the Women’s Environmental Network to set up 15 community gardens across the borough to help improve residents wellbeing by providing access to healthier food and creating community cohesion. Residents took part in food growing, and training sessions on garden design, growing, healthy eating and cooking. The 15month project was delivered with a budget of £120,000.

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

Growing Durham is a project partly funded by County Durham, which encourages and provides support for people to get involved in growing some of their own food as well as helping to create a network of new and diverse community growing schemes.

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

Lewisham Council offers advice to 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.

The Incredible Edible Network has created a 10 steps to being Incredible guide which covers the basics of starting a local community growing network.

The National Union of Student's 'For Good' platform enables students and organisations to connect on practical projects, research or placements in sustainability.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s guide ‘Meanwhile use leases and guidance for landlords’ provides legal guidance to facilitate the temporary occupation of empty town centre retail premises by non-commercial occupiers to contribute.

Power to Change have published guidance for public authorities and community businesses on developing, appraising, implementing and evaluating Community Asset Transfers and their social and economic benefits.

The Meanwhile Foundation toolkit supports members with a set of tools to use in the process of space negotiation and contracting with landlords and tenants.

Capital Growth, London largest food growing network provides access to discounted training, networking events, support with growing to sell, a tool to measure volume of harvests and discounts on equipment.

Edible Estates in Scotland offers practical guidance and support to neighbourhoods and groups wanting to set up community growing projects in Council estates through their Neighbourhood Gardens and Community Growers’ scheme.

Edible Roof Gardens provides advice and bespoke services to those wanting to create wildlife friendly and productive roof gardens.

Sustain’s ‘Which Tool to Use. A guide for evaluating health and wellbeing outcomes for community growing programmes’ provides a set of tools that community groups can use to measure the health and wellbeing impacts of their growing projects.

Sustain has published a number of guides to help transform food planning locally: Planning Food Cities and Planning Sustainable Cities for Community Food Growing which advises planners on using food growing as a way of creating healthy communities.

The Town and Country Planning Association's new development guidelines for Local Authorities take on an explicit public health perspective and recommend improving the food environment by giving communities the means to grow their own food in designated public and private spaces accessible from the home, school, or workplace.

Good to Grow is a campaign to coordinate national events across the UK to raise the profile of community gardens and encourage more people to take part.

Community Land Advisory Service helps communities identify growing sites, links them with landowners and helps with leases and related issues.

Sustain’s Grow More Food: Top Tips provides a useful overview of how you can improve the yield of your growing site. 

Sustain’s Future Farmers: a guide to running an urban food growing traineeship is aimed at organisations looking to set up traineeships as part of their food growing enterprise. 

Download our Good Policy for Good Food Guide

The local authority can encourage community food growing by adopting policies that increase allotment provision, promote edible landscapes and make available green and brownfield sites.


Aberdeen City Council is developing a Food Growing Strategy for the city. This is in line with the Community Empowerment Act (2015) which requires that each local authority in Scotland prepares a food growing strategy for its area to identify land that may be used as allotment sites, identify other areas of land that could be used for community growing and describe how the authority intends to increase provision for community growing, in particular in areas which experience socio-economic disadvantage.

In Brighton & Hove, a 10 year Allotment Strategy was agreed and signed off by both the City Council’s Environment Committee and the Allotment Federation in 2014. Key actions included: introduction of choice in plot size including new micro plots; support for people on the waiting list to volunteer on community plots or become co-workers; development of a package of support for new plot holders and education for plot holders on water management. Closer management of the waiting list for vacant plots reduced the average waiting time for a plot to two years.

Aberdeen City Council (ACC)’s ‘Local Outcome Improvement Plan’ (LOIP): (p50-51) includes:

Driver: ‘Sustainable food provision in Aberdeen, tackling food poverty, developing community food skills and knowledge and delivering sustainable food provision’.

Improvement Measure/Aim(s): ‘Increase provision of allotments and community food growing spaces’.

Belfast City Council has led the development of a Growing Communities Strategy 2012-2022 which aims to ensure that all parts of the community in Belfast have the opportunity to participate in and experience the benefits of growing. This includes as a key action the identification of new, sustainable sites for growing and the integration of green space provision in planning.

Lambeth Council promotes food growing in its Local Plan (p102): ‘The use of land and buildings as new allotments, orchards and for local food growing spaces and production will be supported, including the temporary use of vacant or derelict land or buildings and the use of incidental open space on housing estates and other open space areas, where this does not conflict with other policy objectives or land use priorities.’ The Council also provides small grants, tools, capital and officer mentoring in support of this.

Local authorities can introduce meanwhile leases to facilitate the use of derelict land or buildings in order to provide multiple economic, social and environmental benefits such as opportunities for green jobs creation, community action and cohesion.


Cardiff City Council and other public sector organisations are contributing to increased public access to community growing spaces by leasing land and providing meanwhile use of land to local growing projects. (p16)

Manchester City Council (p53) and partners granted residents free use of a previously derelict site for a meanwhile growing project. The site has since won awards for: its social and environmental value; improved relationships between the community and public and private organisations; improved social cohesion; development of residents’ skills and increased fruit and vegetable intake as well as physical and mental health.

The local authority can encourage developers to incorporate food growing into planning policies.


Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Planning for Health Supplementary Planning Document increases the protection of existing allotments and community food growing space and provides for the creation of new spaces (p15) arguing that they ‘provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, contributing to physical and mental wellbeing’ and ‘provide a place for people to interact and to produce healthy locally grown food, which can help to improve the diet of residents.’

Croydon Council applies a presumption in favour of development provided applications assist in the delivery of a Green Grid which includes:

  • Protecting and enhancing allotments, community gardens and woodland.
  • Supporting food growing, tree planting and forestry, including the temporary utilisation of cleared sites; and encouraging major residential developments to incorporate edible planting and growing spaces at multiple floor levels.
  • Ensuring landscaping is flexible so that spaces may be adapted for growing opportunities.

The policy derives from the London Plan (p323) which includes several strategic policies promoting productive landscapes and encourages boroughs to identify other potential spaces that could be used for commercial food production or for community gardening, including allotments and orchards.

Hull City Council’s Local Plan Policy 46 supports the use of land for local food growing. This covers the temporary use of vacant or derelict land or buildings as well as housing estate greenspace and any new development.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has included food growing in the Infrastructure schedule of its Local Plan 2019 (p275) stating that ‘To improve underused and neglected areas of open space [the RBKC will] provide food growing facilities for residents, schools and community groups’ by ‘Installing food growing gardens (community kitchen gardens)’ with a budget of £50 to £100K per year.

The Borough has also introduced planning policies (36.3.13) that recognise the role that locally grown food plays in reducing food miles.

Planning Advice Notes offer technical advice on good practice in a local area and guidance on the sort of development that is encouraged.


Brighton & Hove City Council adopted a Food Growing and Development Planning Advice Note in 2011. The PAN, the first of its kind nationally, made provisions for the incorporation of community food growing into new commercial and residential developments.

Brighton & Hove Food Partnership was instrumental in the negotiation and drafting of the Planning Advice Note intended to be used by developers and planning officers as a guide to what might be achievable depending on the specific context of the development.

The response from developers has been positive overall and the percentage of all residential developments proposing food growing has increased from 1% to over 40% since its adoption.

A Sustainability Checklist for planning applications can be used to include food growing and the protection of green spaces in the provisions required to comply. Section 62 (3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows local planning authorities to require certain ‘evidence in support’ to be submitted with planning applications. Failure to comply will result in the application being declared invalid.


Brighton and Hove City Council have called on Section 62 (3) to make it compulsory for developers of residential buildings (new and conversions) to complete a Sustainability Checklist for Planning which includes a section on food growing.

Evan Cornish Foundation Eating Better report investigates charity food provision through case studies. One recommendation is for cities to have a charity help network where charities working on food could share resources (e.g. people, knowledge, time, infrastructure) (p30).

University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food. March 2020. The hidden potential of urban horticulture. Nature Food. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sustainable-food/news/urban-land-could-grow-fruit-and-veg-15-percent-population

The study finds that growing fruit and vegetables in just 10 per cent of a city’s gardens and other urban green spaces could provide 15 per cent of the local population with their ‘five a day’.

 

Department for Communities and Local Government. 16 October 2013. “Meanwhile use leases and guidance for landlords” via website Gov.UK. Accessed on 22nd June 2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/meanwhile-use-leases-and-guidance-for-landlords

The introduction of meanwhile use leases by the Government aims to encourage the temporary occupation of empty town centre retail premises by non-commercial occupiers to contribute to town centre vitality.

Natural England. Feb 2016. ‘A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care’ Natural England 113 pages. http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/4513819616346112

The report presents evidence that shows that green care interventions are already making a difference to people’s lives and bring a range of positive benefits for those with existing mental ill health. These include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and an improvement in dementia-related symptoms. It also shows that people involved in these types of green care activities have a greatly increased level of social contact and inclusion; as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement.

The King’s Fund. May 2016. ‘Gardens and health Implications for policy and practice’. The King’s Fund. 65 pages. http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/gardens-and-health

The report brings evidence of the multiple benefits of gardening on health and wellbeing and encourages ‘local government, health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups to make more of the diverse health benefits of gardening in support of their priorities.’ It recommends developing access to allotments and identifies local planners as key enablers.

Sustain. April 2014. ‘Planning Sustainable Cities for Community Food Growing’. Sustain. 46 pages. https://www.sustainweb.org/publications/planning_sustainable_cities/

Shows how community food growing contributes to strategic health and wellbeing objectives by offering the chance to take exercise, reducing stress, decreasing isolation, improving air quality, whilst providing access to fresh and healthy fruit and vegetables (p16).

Shows the contribution of food growing to the growth of the local economy through skills development and therefore improved employability. Growing sites provide a learning environment where participants can develop transferable skills such as selling surplus to planning growing spaces (p19).

Maxwell, S & Lovell, R. 2017. ‘Evidence Statement on the links between natural environments and human health’. Defra and University of Exeter Medical School. 43 pages. https://beyondgreenspace.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/evidence-statement-on-the-links-between-natural-environments-and-human-health1.pdf

‘The evidence highlights a need for more integrated policy and delivery across the health and natural environment sectors at a wide range of spatial scales. Integrated policy and delivery is also required to help recognise and take account of multiple benefits. Even if the health benefits of a particular form of contact with nature are small, public investment may still be justified if there are benefits across a wide range of other policy domains.’ (p3) Furthermore it reports that the health benefits of having your own garden are estimated to have a value of £171-575 per person per year (Mourato et al. 2010 cited in Bateman et al. 2011) .

Public Health England. June 2017. ‘Spatial Planning for Health: An evidence resource for planning and designing healthier places’. Public Health England Publications. 69 pages. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spatial-planning-for-health-evidence-review

“Existing evidence indicates that making healthier foods more accessible and increasing provision of low cost healthier food could be effective interventions, but these are likely to be more effective as part of a whole system approach to diet and obesity”. PHE publish evidence on the impact that ‘increasing access to healthier food for the general population’, ‘decrease exposure to unhealthy food environments’, ‘increased access to healthier food in schools’, ‘access to retail outlets selling healthier food’, ‘urban food growing’, ‘provision of and access to allotment and garden space’ have on key public health outcomes. These include maintenance of healthier weight, reduced risk of CVD, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers, nutrition related outcomes among children and adolescents, BMI among children and adolescents and mental health and wellbeing (pp30-32)

TCPA. Dec 2017. ‘Practical Guides for Creating Successful New Communities Guide 8: Creating Health-Promoting Environments.’ The Town and Country Planning Association. 34pages https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=e120cac7-c8df-45a5-8879-bb830df3fc77

The Town and Country Planning Association's new development guidelines for Local Authorities take on an explicit public health perspective and recommend improving the food environment through: supporting the development of and facilitating access to a diversity of food outlets selling healthy food options; avoiding over-concentration of hot-food takeaways and restricting their proximity to schools, town centres or other facilities aimed at children, young people, and families; and giving communities the means to grow their own food in designated public and private spaces accessible from the home, school, or workplace. (p14)

Capital Growth. 2013. ‘Growing Success: The impact of Capital Growth on community food growing in London’. Sustain 24 pages http://www.sustainweb.org/publications/growing_success/

The study shows that London’s Capital Growth campaign - which aims to increase the amount of land used for growing food and develop people’s skills- has resulted in the strengthening of communities and improvement of individual wellbeing by, for instance, creating volunteering and learning opportunities.

Get involved in a campaign

Organisations

Edible Estates offers practical guidance to those working for or with housing providers to establish food growing schemes.

Resources

Latest resources

What you can do

Bristol's Going for Gold campaign is a city-wide action in support of healthy and sustainable food. It has inspired over 1,200 individuals and hundreds of organisations to take action locally.

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Guides & toolkits

Building Local Food Systems - A toolkit (Food Matters) includes ideas on how to get people practically involved and tips on effective communications and campaigning.

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Local Policies

Aberdeen City Council is developing a Food Growing Strategy for the city. This is in line with the Community Empowerment Act (2015) which requires that each local authority in Scotland prepares a food growing strategy for its area to identify land that may be used as allotment sites, identify other areas of land that could be used for community growing and describe how the authority intends to increase provision for community growing, in particular in areas which experience socio-economic disadvantage.

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