Low food miles, fresh food with little packaging? It’s what a lot of us look for, and for many of us CPRE supporters who don’t live in the countryside, it’s the Green Belt that provides the market garden that can deliver good, local food.
Eating local in the city
Most know that Green Belts are space for trees to grow, for children to play, and for city dwellers to unwind and forget their cares. But it often gets forgotten that they are places where farmers can grow crops and livestock to supply hungry cities with local food. They give us the chance to enjoy the benefits of the city and still remain connected with the countryside and the benefits that it brings.
Eating local food has always been a big part of my life. My parents were some of the original ‘good lifers’ of the 1970s and moved to the countryside to grow their own food for their family. Every day much of the food on our table had travelled only metres from our own vegetable garden. Idyllic as this sounds – and it is idyllic – it is not the life I have chosen. Perhaps it was too much enforced weeding from a young age, but I never caught the gardening bug. To those that do, it is a true labour of love – especially when the slugs demolish your seedlings overnight. My garden is a small city one with a few flowers, herbs and a swing. Yet, I love the countryside and I love to eat good, local food.
I know there are others like me. We don’t see the advantage of shrink-wrapped vegetables from the supermarket – with plastic packaging that has to then be removed and disposed of. We want our food fresh, to have travelled a short distance rather than trundled down the motorway, to even, perhaps, talk to the person who grew it. I wish I had the time or the inclination for an allotment, but I still want my food local and fresh. I’m not about to give up bananas or coffee, but everyday vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, salads and greens – I’d prefer those to be grown in local soils, within the city or in the countryside surrounding it.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city with a Green Belt, then you have that opportunity on your doorstep with local meat or milk from animals that graze the fields. There are lots of people availing themselves of this opportunity, but there could be more. That’s why, at CPRE Avonside, we’ve launched our Local Food and the Green Belt campaign. We want to see more opportunity for food to be supplied directly to the cities of Bristol and Bath from the Green Belt that surrounds them. We want to celebrate the enormous benefits Green Belts bring to our cities.
Our Green Belts have been protecting and providing some of our cities now for 60 years. Those green fields and undeveloped soils are crucial to the health of our cities and their people. We need to make sure they are beautiful and hardworking spaces that we use, enjoy and benefit from, otherwise we risk losing them for good to yet more concrete and tarmac.
I’ve added news about this project to Our Green Belt digital hub too. It would be good to hear what other local foods and markets are supplied by Green Belt land, so do add examples at Our Green Belt so we can celebrate a Green Belt harvest this September.
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