Rurban Revolution is an interdisciplinary project focused on the transformative potential of urban greening and food growing.

The challenge

Food presents us with many challenges for our health, sustainability and resilience.


Over-consumption and poor dietary choices are damaging our health leading to an epidemic of obesity and associated diseases such as diabetes in the UK and other countries. This obesity crisis is happening in parallel to a crisis in mental health, and stress can drive poor eating habits. We are also suffering from unequal access to nutritious food – the UK has very high levels of food insecurity compared with other high income countries.


At a global level, agriculture is a major cause of environmental harm and raises important questions about the sustainability and longevity of our current approach to food production and consumption. The need for land expansion to meet our growing food demands is causing widespread deforestation and soil degradation. Almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions derive from agriculture, contributing to climate change with major knock-on effects for ecosystems and people.


In addition to the challenges that increasing land use pressures and climate change are presenting to ensuring stable and adequate supply of good quality nutritious food into supply chains, the UK is facing further challenges as we prepare for Brexit. Potential changes to labour and farm payments throw a lot of uncertainty on the viability of domestic horticultural production, and uncertainty around trade agreements creates questions about the future supply of fruit and vegetables – 30% of which currently derive from the EU.

Our approach

Rurban Revolution brings together expertise in ecosystems, psychology, plant sciences and supply chains from Lancaster University, Cranfield University and University of Liverpool. Over the two years, we will be building an interdisciplinary evidence base on how urban green spaces and growing potentially influences:

  • Healthy and sustainable diets by improving availability, access and consumption of fruit and vegetables.
  • Food production in terms of quantity, quality and safety and the resilience of the UK food system.
  • Ecosystem service delivery, both inside and outside cities.

This project started in April 2019 and it’s initial funding ended in September 2021. It was funded through the Global Food Security’s ‘Resilience of the UK Food System Programme’, with support from BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and The Scottish Government.

Full details on the project can be found the UK Research & Innovation Gateway to Research.