Leeds ACTS! 'Food Now and In The Future' Event

Leeds ACTS! organized a successful event focusing on local food issues, bringing together academics from all three universities and third sector organizations all working on food-related issues.

LeedsACTS! “Food Now & in the Future” event was held on 05/11/2014 at Hillside, Beeston Road, Leeds, LS11 8ND. 

“Food Now & in the Future” was the first LeedsACTS! event to be organized by the Third Sector.  LeedsACTS! chose to focus on local food issues (food waste, food insecurity, urban agriculture, community food security etc.), to showcase current projects in Leeds and the potential for academic collaboration. In September, Feed Leeds, a network supporting sustainable food growing and related issues in Leeds, made a deputation to the council to gain support for developing a sustainable food strategy for Leeds. Therefore, a LeedsACTS! event bringing together academics and third sector organizations to address food issues in Leeds was a good starting point for developing collaborative opportunities that might be useful to a future food strategy.  “Food Now & in the Future” was well attended by more than 20 academics and post-graduate students from all three universities and a cross-section of third sector organizations.

Speakers: Professor Les Firbank (School of Biology, University of Leeds) highlighted existing problems in the global food supply due to climate change and stressed that they will only intensify. He discussed some of the challenges to the global food supply and opportunities that could be addressed, such as sustainable intensification of global and UK agriculture, urban food production, rethinking architecture and reduction of food waste.

Dr Nicola Bown (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds) introduced the upcoming ESRC seminar series “Food Options, Opinions and Decisions (Food): Integrating perspectives on consumer perceptions of food safety, nutrition and waste” which will be looking to inform public communications about food safety, health and waste and how to convey all of these messages most effectively, with possible third sector collaboration on evaluating communication interventions. For more information on how to get involved with this project, please email Hannah Preston (H.Preston@leeds.ac.uk).

Mary Halsey (Food Aid Network (FAN)) gave an introduction into how the network operates in Leeds through signposting to food aid providers; the distribution of food through Fare Share Yorkshire; signposting to long-term provision e.g. addiction; as well as facilitating communication in the practicalities of tackling food poverty in Leeds.

Paul Long and Jonathon De-Aston (Kirkstall Community Garden) discussed the role of the community garden in providing access to land and opportunities to learn food–growing skills for people experiencing food insecurity. They also focused on the importance and benefits of free access to growing space for communities and children, especially in schools.

Dr Jayne Rodgers (Space2), talked about the Back to Front project and why they grow food in front gardens. In addition, she spoke in detail about the community garden project in Cross Green and the positive impact that has had on the local community supporting people to work together to create a vibrant community garden as well as encouraging people to grow food in their own front yards.

Seed Corn Funding: Following the presentations there were plenty of thought provoking questions for the panel and the sharing of current projects and initiatives. People then broke out into groups to discuss potential collaboration projects that could then be supported through the LeedsACTS! Seed Corn programme. Details on the next round of Seed Corn funding will be available soon.