Explore the Food Zones

GROWING COMMUNITIES’ FOOD ZONES Our vision of what a sustainable and resilient food & farming system might look like

How might we reduce the amount of energy, fuel and resources it takes to feed us, while creating jobs and community in urban and rural areas and producing delicious food that's good for us and the planet? The Food Zones shows the amounts and types of food we could source from different areas (zones): it starts with the urban areas in which most of us live and moves outwards - raising what it is best to raise in each zone based on the factors shown, taking into account the principles outlined earlier. Growing Communities’ progress to date is also shown.

Food zones diagram

Moving from the inner to the outer zones:
  • Size of plots available, scale of operation, degree of mechanisation required and the carbon intensity of distribution all likely to increase.
  • It makes sense for the perishability of produce to decrease as you move fruther away from where it will be consumed.
  • Grazing animals can be included where this makes sense. Pigs & chickens can be fitted into mixed farming systems where they can use waste and provide fertility.
  • Population of urban centres likely to reduce as some city dwellers move further out to get involved in farming that uses more human ‘power’.
  • Soil type, climate, what grows best where and the available infrastructure also need to be taken into account.
Fruit & Veg only
2008/9 2015/16 Food zone TARGET
0 Urban Domestic 0.0% 0.0% 2.5%
1 Urban Traded 3.6% 3.2% 5.0%
2 Peri-urban 0.0% 2.1% 17.5%
3 Rural Hinterland 54.2% 47.8% 35.0%
4 Rest of UK 2.8% 21.4% 20.0%
5 Rest of Europe 31.8% 21.2% 15.0%
6 Rest of World 7.5% 4.3% 5.0%
Total “Local Farms” 57.8% 53% 60.0%
Total UK 60.6% 72% 80.0%
Self Sufficiency % 61 : 39 72 : 28
80 : 20

Growing Communities has a wider vision of what a sustainable, resilient food system might look like which encompasses our Key Principles while aiming to reduce the amount of oil and fossil fuels it takes to feed us.

Our vision can be expressed in the form of a diagram – the Growing Communities’ Food Zones. It shows what type of food could best come from where and is an initial attempt to illustrate what percentage of our food we need to source from different zones.

It starts with the urban areas in which most of us live and moves outwards applying a kind of food subsidiarity. Raising what we can as close as we can taking into account a number of factors, e.g. soil type, climate, what grows best where, size of plots available, infrastructure and transport links available, the degree of mechanisation that makes most sense, and the perishability of the produce.

It’s based on human-scale, organic, mixed farms located in and around urban areas which are directly connected to the urban communities they feed and which enable those communities to source increasing amounts of food from close to where they live.

It’s built around the idea of community sized ‘building blocks’ which encompass positive but appropriately scaled trading relationships starting from the local and working out to global and which enable urban producers, small farmers, producer co-ops, larger farms and food imports to exist in harmony.

>> Read more about how we applied our principles in practice last year in our Annual Report.

Website by Joe Short