Growing food at home may help households be more resilient to future lockdowns by ensuring that they have access to healthy food.
Researchers at Lancaster, Liverpool and Cranfield University are taking part in a two-year project funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to examine the potential impact that homegrown food has on health, wellbeing and sustainability in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Lockdown in the UK saw a dramatic increase in the number of people getting involved with home food growing, which according to the researchers was likely motivated by food shortages.
The researchers will use a ‘citizen science’ approach to address questions such as does home food growing help make people more secure in times of crisis? What support do people need to be successful home growers? and how does home food growing impact on the natural environment?
Study participants will be tasked to grow lettuces in their gardens and will then complete online questionnaires about their diet, wellbeing and experiences. Participants will collect their own soil and plant samples for nutritional and contaminant analysis, and the researchers will help monitor the air quality in the growing environment.
Project lead, Professor Jess Davies of Lancaster Environment Centre, said: ‘The initial lockdown phase has shone a spotlight on the importance of food and getting outdoors into nature for our health and wellbeing. Our initial research in the project suggests that urban food growing has the potential to contribute to our food system resilience in the UK, as well as a personal sense of resilience, and dietary health.
‘With social distancing measures and intermittent restrictions likely to continue in the short and medium-term, the interest and importance of food growing in urban areas are set to continue. We’re hoping to work with people setting out on home-growing projects at this time to understand the value that this provides under a crisis.’
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