Memorandum submitted by Garden Organic (SFS 35)


1.0 Garden Organic

1.1 Garden Organic welcomes The UK Parliament Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Inquiry - Securing food supplies up to 2050: the challenge for the UK.


1.2 Garden Organic is an organisation working to inspire, encourage and support individuals and groups to grow organically. This is achieved through research, demonstration, education and promotional activities and we work with individuals growing on a domestic scale, with groups growing on a community scale and with commercial fruit and vegetable farmers growing for local and national markets. Garden Organic is a membership organisation, with over 40,000 members. Over the last 15 years the organisation has been one of the main research providers for Defra's Research and Development programme on organic horticulture. The organisation also runs a successful school education programme in over 5,000 schools in the UK.

2.0 Summary of Garden Organic's submission to the inquiry

2.1 The role and potential of gardening and home food production needs to be properly recognised within the UK food system. Action and investment is required so that home food production can fulfil its potential.

2.2 Support and investment in the UK organic fruit and vegetable supply sector should be increased.


2.3 There should be increased support and investment for the development of localised and resilient food production systems - systems that depend on the use of renewable energy and are based on the principles and practices of organic agriculture.


2.4 New food security policies for the UK needs to consider the resilience of the food system in wider terms; not only considering short term shocks to the system, but also the longer term challenges facing the food system, everything from climate change to dietary change. Food and farming systems for the 21st century will need to be shaped to address the New Fundamentals as outlined by Barling, Lang and Sharpe, 2008.1


2.5 It is Garden Organic's view that the four points listed above (2.1-2.4) are all important within the debate and that they need to be addressed to ensure food security. In this response however, we have chosen to highlight the role of home food production in particular (2.1).


3.0 Gardening and home food production

3.1.1 Production of fruit and vegetables in domestic gardens, community gardens, allotments, schools and on other communal land can and should have an important role in ensuring UK food security. Home production needs to be recognised as an important complement to the supply of fruit and vegetables from commercial growers and as an integral part of the UK food supply chain.


3.1.2 The role and potential of food production at a domestic scale needs to be core in the forthcoming UK food security policy, providing an important 'safety net' within the food system by addressing availability, access and affordability of food, fruit and vegetables in particular. Active involvement in food production, at whatever scale, is vital in terms of reconnecting people with the food they eat.


3.3 Encouraging and supporting people to garden and produce some of their own fruit and vegetables will help to meet wide ranging government objectives; environmental and social objectives as well as objectives related to health and well being. In brief, the benefits of gardening and home food production are as follows:


3.3.1 Home food production can contribute towards ensuring food security by providing access to affordable fruit and vegetables for people.


3.3.2 Growing some of their own produce will influence people's dietary choices. It will increase consumption of fruit and vegetables and enable more people to reach the 5-a-day target.


3.3.3 Organic gardening, including home composting and home food production, will help to address climate change issues by reducing the carbon footprint of UK households.


3.3.4 Providing opportunities for people to reconnect we the food they eat will help to increase their awareness of food issues, for example the real value of food and the importance of reducing wastage of food.


3.3.5 The physical activity of gardening and access to gardens and green spaces will improve health and well being of people and support community cohesion.


3.3.6 Organic gardening will provide environmental benefits by maintaining and increasing biodiversity, including the conservation of genetic diversity of food crops, by improving the health of soils and protecting the stores of carbon in garden soils.


3.3.7 Use of domestic gardens for diverse plantings will provide areas for infiltration of rainwater and thus help to prevent flooding in urban areas.


4.0 Actions required

4.1 In the UK the time is now right for home food production to play its role. Current trends show that people are becoming more interested in the food they eat, its quality and where it comes from and increasing numbers of people want to garden organically and grow some of their own fruit and vegetables. Actions are now required at all levels to ensure that people's intentions are mobilised into practical and successful action.


4.2 The actions required by UK Government for gardening and home food production to fulfil its potential are as follows:


4.2.1 Ensure that gardening and home food production are considered as essential life-skills, with adequate provision of education and training opportunities for children and adults and aiming for high levels of "food literacy" in the UK.


4.2.2 Encourage and support people with their gardening and food growing activities, through communication, training and provision of resources.


4.2.3 Provide access to land for all people, by ensuring adequate provision of gardens in new housing developments, increased provision of allotment areas and community gardens and support for landowners who want to initiate community supported agricultural schemes.


4.2.4 Invest in research and development activities specifically targeted at gardening and food production at this scale.


4.2.5 Garden Organic encourages the UK Government to initiate a national campaign to encourage the public to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens, allotments, in schools and on other communal and public land.


21 January 2009

Dr Margi Lennartsson, Policy Director




1) Barling D, Lang T, Sharpe R. (2008) Food capacity: the root of the problem. Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, 154, 5533, 22-27.


January 2009