Growing fruit and vegetables in just 10 percent of a city's gardens and other urban green spaces could provide 15 percent of the local population with their 'five a day', according to new research. In a study published in Nature Food, academics from the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield investigated the potential for urban horticulture by mapping green spaces and grey spaces across the city. They found that green spaces including parks, gardens, allotments, roadside verges and woodland cover 45 percent of Sheffield -- a figure similar to other UK cities.
Allotments cover 1.3 percent of this, while 38 percent of green space comprised of domestic gardens, which have immediate potential to start growing food. The interdisciplinary team used data from Ordnance Survey and Google Earth to reveal that an extra 15 percent of the city's green space, such as parks and roadside verges, also has potential to be converted into community gardens or allotments.
Putting domestic gardens, allotments and suitable public green spaces together would open up 98m2 per person in Sheffield for growing food. This equates to more than four times the 23m2 per person currently used for commercial horticulture across the UK. If 100 percent of this space was used for growing food, it could feed approximately 709,000 people per year their 'five a day', or 122 percent of the population of Sheffield. But even converting a more realistic 10 percent of domestic gardens and 10 percent of available green space, as well as maintaining current allotment land, could provide 15 percent of the local population -- 87,375 people -- with sufficient fruit and veg.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.

Photo Credit: Irina Fischer