Food for thought – Brighton & Hove City Council’s sustainable food strategy

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When Brighton & Hove was working towards becoming the first accredited One Planet City, the principle we felt most confident about was Local and Sustainable Food. Brighton & Hove was the first city in the UK to write a food strategy back in 2006. This was developed in partnership with experienced food consultancy organisation Food Matters. The city has been recognised for a number of innovations, providing some of the inspiration for the new Sustainable Food Cities network across the UK and will be an important way to share learning over the years to come.

The city’s Food Partnership has been a phenomenal success, with the Harvest project recognised in the National Lottery and Food Awards as a pioneering urban agriculture project. From 2009-13, Harvest helped triple the number of community gardens in the city from 25 to over 75, and theharvest evaluation report, summary version and short video all highlight the impact of the project.

As part of the Harvest project, and inspired in part by the rooftop allotments pioneered by Bioregional at One Brighton, the city drafted the country’s first Planning Advisory Note which encourages food growing in new developments. This initiative has been recognised by the World Green Building Council, Royal Institute of Town Planners and Construction in Excellence Awards.

UK developers that are sceptical or wary of including food growing in their plans should consider strategies One Brighton’s developer partners, Crest Nicholson and Bioregional, have locally established. The inclusion of rooftop allotments for residents has created a unique and attractive selling point to potential customers, and as a result there is now a healthy waiting list for allotments amongst the new residents.

More recently the city’s Allotment Federation, City Council, Public Health team and the Food Partnership worked up an allotment strategy for the city for the next decade, plotting out how the city’s large allotment community (3000+ plot holders) can thrive. Almost 2,000 local people fed into the development process through surveys and events where the majority of plot holders highlighted the importance of being able to access healthy and sustainable food, 80% also felt that allotments benefit their mental health, 95% believed it promotes good exercise and 72% felt part of a community as a result. The strategy was formally adopted by the Council and Allotment Federation in March 2014.

This initiative really does show how the city’s food partnerships integrate One Planet Principles and is especially important for Health & Happiness – no doubt contributing to the city’s reputation as a predominantly happy place with a great quality of life.  I’ve certainly found it a great place to live and bring up my son.

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