Written by Researcher Dr Rachel Marshall (a food systems researcher and a member of Claver Hill Community Food Project) introduces the ‘Rurban Hope Spots’ project which is mapping land for potential food growing in and around the urban and rural spaces across Lancaster District.

Imagine walking down your street and being able to pick apples and plums from a community orchard or buy tomatoes from a newly established market garden on the edge of the city. Imagine you’re someone trying to set up their own growing business, or a group of people who don’t have outside space at home and want to set up a community garden.

One of the biggest barriers facing any of these possibilities is access to land. In fact, in many cases the challenge starts with a lack of data and mapping on what land is available, appropriate and even who it is owned by. Even when data about these matters is accessible, how might communities best use it to map their locality in ways that open up opportunities for food production?

FoodFutures is working in collaboration with the Future Places Centre and Rurban Revolution project at Lancaster University to develop an approach to mapping the potential of land and open green spaces to be used for food production. We’re exploring what data is freely available and what additional information is needed to enable us to better understand land availability and suitability for food growing. The project looks at both urban and rural spaces with the aim of creating a methodology or recipe that people in other places across the UK could also use to map their city, town or district.

As part of the project the team has created self-guided walking trail around Lancaster City which explores how urban spaces could be used for food growing. Guided either by the FPC Trails app or the trail leaflet you’ll visit sites where food growing is already happening as well as explore the different types of spaces where we might incorporate food growing. The trail is available from the 22nd October 2021 and runs for six weeks. More information is available in The Storey or on the project website: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/future-places/activities/our-food-growing-hope-spots/

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