Culture

Greening Our Urban Spaces

It was an important campaign during World War 2 to grow your own vegetables and that generation turned their gardens over from flowers to food. Having freshly grown fruit and veg is good for both health and wellbeing.

It is also great for biodiversity.

Whitehawk Allotment, Brighton. Image credit: Beth Nicholls

Today, even if you do not have a garden, many are turning towards allotments and community spaces again as a means of providing their families with fresh vegetables.

A citizen science project by the University of Sussex has found that urban growers in Brighton and Hove were able to harvest 1kg of insect-pollinated fruit and vegetables per one metre square.

The researchers calculated that an average of £380 worth of produce per grower was thanks to insect pollination, with berries being the most attractive crop to pollinators. 

Over the two-year period, the volunteers recorded over 2000 pollinating insects visiting their crops. Bees were the most common group of pollinating visitors accounting for 43% of all flower visits. Surprisingly, flies were also important visitors, accounting for 34% of insect visits. 

 Dr Beth Nicholls, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, at the University of Sussex. explained:

“In a world of increasing urbanisation in both the developing and developed worlds, producing food in and around cities has the potential to improve both nutritional and health outcomes, alleviate poverty and simultaneously provide habitat for wildlife and create sustainable cities.

 “The UK imports approximately £8 billion of fruit and vegetables each year, but our results show that green spaces in cities, such as allotments and community gardens, could play an important role in meeting that demand at a local scale.” 

Dr Nicholls presented the initial research at Talk at Ecology Across Borders, on Wednesday 15 December, in the  People & Nature Session.

Image credit Bell

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