British cities have lost 65 percent of the working population since the mid-twentieth century, a new study claims.
Historical maps of 10 urban locations, including Bristol, Glasgow and Liverpool, showed that lost land could have grown in about 2,500 tons of food each year.
The poorer urban areas in particular have eight times as many allocation closures than the wealthiest areas.
Due to a lack of allocation space, cities are more dependent on imports of fruit and vegetables from abroad, which leads to risks for food security.
Restoring former allotment gardens could meet current demand for new growing space, the researchers at the University of Sheffield said.
In Bristol and Glasgow, for example, three-quarters of the former undeveloped allotment land could feed more than 14,000 people a year when converted.
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Researchers say the history of an allocation site closure provides insights to help meet current demand, which is increasing due to the realization of the health and social benefits of having a lot
Councils now have a legal obligation to provide enough room for growth to meet demand, which has grown tremendously over the last 20 years as people become more aware of the benefits of homegrown products, the team said.
“As the waiting lists continue to lengthen, this trend of declining subdivision land is worrying – but our research has shown that municipalities can meet demand in one way simply by restoring former sites,” said Dr. Miriam Dobson, lead author of the study.
“Growing our fruits and vegetables has enormous benefits for people’s health and wellbeing and can contribute to local food security and improve our environment. ‘
Change in land allocation in Leicester, England, during the twentieth century: a) 1910, b) 1950, c) 1970, d) 2016
The team said the more economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the cities were the main victims, as neighborhood allotments were more likely to be turned into commercial and industrial buildings.
“Our findings reinforce the need to preserve existing plots and increase growth space, especially in deprived areas, to share those benefits more equitably in our cities.”
In England, the demand for allotments has increased from less than ten waiting per 100 lots in 1996 to more than 50 per 100 lots in 2013, a previous study claims.
Almost half of the land suitable for restoration to subdivision space is located in the most deprived urban areas. Communities in these areas would benefit most from growing their own vegetables
Nationally, the allocation plots during World War II were over a million, partly as a result of public campaigns to ‘dig for victory’ and ‘grow your own’.
WHAT DOES ‘DIG FOR VICTORY’ MEAN?
The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched during the Second World War by the British Ministry of Agriculture.
Across the country, men and women were encouraged to grow their own food during times of harsh rationing.
Open spaces everywhere were transformed into allotment gardens, from indoor gardens to public parks – even the lawns outside the Tower of London were turned into vegetable gardens.
Leaflets were part of a large-scale propaganda campaign aimed at making sure people had enough to eat and morale was kept high.
However, the number of lots fell from an estimated 1,400,000 during the war to just 300,000 in 2009.
Driving factors for the closure of allotments in the twentieth century include post-war prosperity and the rise of convenience food, which is decreasing the demand for food areas.
The pressure of urban development has also taken precedence over land allocation allocations.
Using online map service Digimap, the researchers analyzed historical Ordnance Survey maps of 10 UK urban areas – Bristol, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea.
The authors found that about a quarter of all areas historically classified as allotments still existed as of 2016, while another quarter had turned into different types of greenery, such as parks and nature reserves.
However, just under half – 47.9 percent – of all housing projects had been built.
During World War II, millions of people in Britain ‘dug’ for victory ‘and planted vegetables in their gardens to feed their families. This image shows part of a poster used between 1939 and 1946 to promote the benefits of self-cultivation
Researchers then calculated the potential of former parcelling land to meet current demand for five locations based on waiting lists.
Four out of five cities – Southampton, Newcastle, Leicester and Sheffield – could meet current demand by restoring former allotments turned into other forms of green space, they said.
On average, three-quarters of this country was suitable for conversion, they said.
The authors cited estimate that 25 to 30 percent of city residents now participate in urban agriculture to some degree.
Earlier allotments could cover up to 100 percent of current demand for new grow space in some areas, researchers said
By 2050, 90 percent of Britain’s population – or 68 percent worldwide – will be urban residents, according to the United Nations.
The study, which is published in Landscape and urban planning, shows how crucial urban spaces can be that are aimed at growing products.
“With the increasing urbanization of the population, feeding urban communities in an honest and sustainable way is an urgent question,” they write.
“Our findings reinforce the need to preserve the sites that still exist today.”