Technical and Practical Considerations of Food Growing

The following technical issues should be taken into consideration in relation to the provision of any type of food-growing facility:

Land – how much land, if any, is available on the site or can be made available through the design process?

Use of Building – is there potential to incorporate growing spaces within, around or on a building or buildings?

Aspect and Light – ideally, growing spaces should be south-facing to maximise exposure to direct sunlight during the growing period. If this is not possible, the site will restrict the choice of plants that can be grown.

Water – any food-growing will need a reliable water supply. Incorporating rain-water collection into any design is desirable, but easy access to mains water may also be necessary. Risk of legionella contagion should be controlled.

Wind – adequate protection from wind needs to be planned into any growing space to allow crops to thrive.

Soil/Growing Medium – an essential component for growing food, which will vary according to the setting. Rooftop- or container-growing may require a more lightweight growing medium.

Compost – all food-growing requires ongoing inputs to maintain the fertility of the growing medium. Provision of on-site composting should be designed-in from the outset, both to meet this requirement and to help manage organic ‘waste’ generated within the development.

Contaminated Land – soil in urban settings may need to be checked for contamination and quality.

Access – adequate access must be available for those who will use the site. In addition, heavyweight materials such as compost and tools may need to be taken to the site – a particular issue for rooftops or balconies.

Storage – adequate provision for the storage of tools and associated equipment will need to be integrated into the design.

Management – who will be growing the food and will there be a need to provide ongoing management of the growing areas by a caretaker or external contractor (such as the landscaping contractor)? The recommended solution is to establish an organisation, run and managed by local residents, to take responsibility for management of communal food-growing areas. Involving community organisations in the design of food-growing areas should begin, if possible, at the design stage.

Page updated: 9/02/2018

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