Skip to main content

Cities on the Grow: Pathways to supporting the sustainable growth of urban food enterprises in London, Reading and Almere

Cities on the Grow was a one year collaborative venture between Wageningen University, the University of Reading, and Deltares Institute, which has been funded by Climate KIC, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (Horizon 2020).

The project began in early 2014 with the aim of investigating the local food systems of London (UK), Reading (UK) and Almere (NL). The case studies were selected for their unique urban characteristics as a global city, a regional town centre, and polycentric ‘garden city’ respectively. It set out with the intention to establish how Urban Food Enterprises (UFE), operating in these locations, can be supported to realise their goals of localised, commercially viable, socio-ecologically just food systems. The project has focused on the potential benefits of local food systems for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and on health and well being. It has sought to understand how these potential benefits can be captured whilst securing the commercial viability of actors involved.

The findings from this study reveal a mixed picture of networked activity albeit incoherent as far as any ‘local food movement’ is concerned in the case study regions. This mixed picture of craft and micro-enterprise practices is tied to pre-conditions set out by funding agencies such as the Lottery Fund and the availability of small business grants, the ideological slants of these community-led projects, urban morphology, historical institutional ties, and the nature of urban-rural linkages. This poses a complex and challenging environment for urban and regional policy and planning intervention, including the challenges for delivering on genuine community engagement, on identifying monitoring and evaluating mechanisms for climate and health impact, and on economic development.

This research project was funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology

Research Team: Richard Nunes (Henley Business School), Suzanne van der Meulen (Deltares), and Gerben Mol (Wageningen University and Research)