Slow Food Birmingham has submitted a proposal to start urban farming on top of a car park to provide its community with healthy, local foods.
As climate change continues to be a global problem, cities are developing solutions to reduce its impact. We’re seeing an increase in forests and green spaces in urban areas, a rise in sustainable modes of transportation and even a switch to electric. We’re even seeing cities use underutilized space, such as rooftops and parking lots. France’s new parking lot law requires solar panels to be installed in parking lots to increase the country’s electricity output. In Belgium, Agrotopia, a greenhouse, has been added to the roof of an agricultural market to create an urban food production centre.
Combining these two ideas, Slow Food Birmingham, a grassroots organization that promotes hyperlocal food production, has plans to develop urban farming on top of a parking lot in Birmingham. The organization has been around since 1989 and is committed to preventing the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions. They work to connect people with where their food comes from and inspires an active interest in local food production. They believe that food should be flavourful and healthy, grown without harming the planet and sold not only at accessible prices for consumers but prices that reflect fair conditions and proper pay to producers.
Their proposal for urban farming in Birmingham supports their mission. The development, if approved, would be built on the top floors of the Vyse Street car park in the Jewellery Quarter area, which has the smallest amount of green space, making traditional growing very difficult. Their farm would include a biodiversity centre, a café, and an education hub that would form partnerships with local schools to promote local food cultivation and cooking. The organization wants to show their community that even though they are located in the middle of the city, it can still grow local produce 12 months of the year.
This initiative would help local hospitality businesses reduce their environmental impact and financial costs and would reduce the cost of grocery shopping for nearby residents. Moreover, it is a project that utilizes unused space for urban farming. It would be completely sustainable as it wouldn’t require building additional infrastructure. The car park would also host a hub for delivering locally grown produce by cargo bike to residents, businesses and food justice groups in the Jewellery Quarter and other nearby areas.
Slow Food Birmingham is working closely with Urban Design Hub and the Birmingham City Council to realize this idea for urban farming and to help reduce the city’s carbon footprint while delivering quality, clean food to residents. Should the project be approved and reach its potential, it will serve as an example for other cities and countries to look at unused space and find sustainable, environmental and local solutions for them.