Small scale food production

The final report was published in March 2012, and suggested that there is a huge opportunity for a greater level of small-scale food production in the fringe of towns and cities which is currently being missed. The research, which looked at seven community and local food businesses operating in the urban fringe, also identified a range of opportunities for smaller-scale food production on land around urban areas, and highlighted the potential of such land given its close proximity to largely populated areas – dramatically cutting down the distance food would have to travel. It called for more to be done to remove the barriers currently stopping this land from being used. It recommended that:

  • The Government reviews the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to encourage local planning authorities to encourage sustainable agriculture in the urban fringe and Green Belt;
  • More Local Planning Authorities develop food strategies, policies and action plans to enable local food supply networks as part of their Local Development Framework;
  • Landowners explore diverse income generation models by working with other agencies and NGOs to enable increased use of land for food production.

Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, and Director of Making Local Food Work, said, “The urban fringe is a valuable asset for the resilience of our food sector. By supporting agricultural use of this land and welcoming food production near towns and cities, we are safeguarding our own food future, and that of generations following us.”

The purpose of this research – ‘Food from the Urban Fringe – Issues and Opportunities’ – was to investigate the current barriers and opportunities for smaller-scale food production on land around urban areas. The study aimed to illustrate these challenges and opportunities by reviewing a diverse range of successful small enterprises, including social enterprises, and unpacking how their businesses operate in the urban fringe, a zone of constant change and ongoing competition for land use.

The report is one of a series of research studies undertaken by Making Local Food Work, a five-year programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund. Making Local Food Work aims to boost the resilience of the local food sector by supporting community food enterprises and to increase access to sustainably produced food with a clear provenance.

Dr Matt Reed, Dr James Kirwan and Dr Carol Kambites worked on the project from the CCRI.