Does urban food growing help us under lockdown? New Rurban research underway

Lockdown measures to slow the spread of coronavirus began on 23rd March in the UK. By then we were already seeing unprecedented demand for food as the UK stocked up ready for lockdown. Pictures of empty shelves and limits on buying in supermarkets became common, and a lack of food in the shops seems to have increased levels of food insecurity.

The Food Foundation estimates that the number of UK adults experiencing food insecurity has quadrupled since the lockdown began. We still don’t know how this will impact health and well-being going forward, but this got us thinking: how is the outbreak affecting food access and well-being, and is there a role for urban agriculture here?

Two days after lockdown began, we launched a new phase of research to help us understand how urban food growing may change people’s food access and well-being under lockdown. We ran an online survey to look at people’s levels of food insecurity and well-being during the coronavirus outbreak, and the ways they were accessing food. In less than two weeks we had responses from 477 people from all over the UK. Almost everyone who took part was in some form of isolation or lockdown, and 152 of the people who took part were already growing their own fruits and vegetables.

We’re analysing the data now to look if there’s differences in food insecurity and well-being between people who do or do not grow their own food, and if food insecurity might make people more open to growing food. Watch this space for the results!