The Covid-19 crisis has revealed the stark inequalities in UK society. Many vulnerable people have had more difficulty accessing food, so third-sector organisations have mobilised emergency food provision. They have also expanded community food-growing initiatives, which enhance participants’ well-being, strengthen social cohesion, localise food provision and thus build future resilience. This project will investigate the expansion of community food-growing initiatives during the Covid-19 crisis. The benefits to community initiatives and the people involved in group food-growing activities will be explored, along with the social barriers and means to overcome them, especially for more vulnerable marginalised social groups. Our aim is to strengthen third-sector capacities for such inclusion.

This project will work with partners active in community cultivation, Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) and Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. Through participatory digital storytelling, the project will elicit participants’ feelings, aspirations, social connections and multiple benefits from community food activities. This knowledge will identify the most effective strategies that have been deployed during the Covid-19 crisis. Those best practices will be shared in the form of digital stories and a freely accessible OpenLearn Create course to promote those practices within the wider community food growing network and outscale similar benefits around the country. These outputs will be co-designed with participants and focus on highlighting lesser-heard voices to promote better mental health, well-being, better access to healthy food and enhance social resilience.

The project began in January 2021 with a first phase that will last until June 2021. This will create an initial set of digital outputs, to be shared with the wider community food growing network and obtain feedback on it. The process will be repeated later in 2021 to create an additional set of digital stories.  Both sets will be used for a new course  before the project ends in  June 2022.

We will be providing regular updates on the project through blog posts. For our very first update, click here.

If you are interested in participating in this project fill out this form to express your interest or visit our “Invitation to Participate” page. For any other queries about this project, you can also contact les.levidow@open.ac.uk or andrea.berardi@open.ac.uk.

  • Location UK
  • Collaborators The Open University, Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC), Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming
  • Funding UKRI/AHRC - UK Research and Innovation/ Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Open University grant ref: AH/V015109/1 - Full title: Local food-growing initiatives respond to the Covid-19 crisis: enhancing well-being, building community for better futures
  • Service provided Research, Development of digital stories and OpenLearn Create Courses
  • Contact
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