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Planners must help London grow its own food, Assembly urges

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:26 05 October 2010

THE seeds of a campaign are being planted today to get London to grow its own food. A London Assembly report this-morning highlights the need to encourage more food growing.

By Mike Brooke

THE seeds of a campaign are being planted today to get London to grow its own food.

A London Assembly report this-morning highlights the need for amendments to the London Plan and local authority planning policies to encourage more food growing.

Greater London is home to almost 500 farms, the Assembly’s planning and housing committee points out.

Surprisingly, we currently produces 8,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, including grapes, aubergines, potatoes, cauliflowers and cabbages as well as around 27 tonnes of honey, meat, milk and eggs, despite being a sprawling urban mass.

But we could grow much more, the committee suggests. Much of the agricultural’ land outside the built-up inner urban area, 15 per cent of Greater London which is mostly in the Green Belt, is not actively farmed.

“We could produce so much more of our own food with the right policy,” said the Assembly’s planning chair Jenny Jones.

“More self-sufficiency means better food security. Why continue relying on huge quantities of food flown in from thousands of miles away when we have the potential to reap the health, social and economic benefits of locally-grown produce?”

Her committee’s Cultivating the Capital report calls on the Mayor to give agriculture the same weight as other Green Belt uses like recreation. The Mayor should give local authorities powers to encourage growing spaces on housing developments, rooftops and vacant land, it urges.

There are currently five wholesale food markets serving London and the South East with 20 per cent of its fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetable supplies. The report suggests opening more distribution hubs.


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