LONDON: Birmingham City Council is set to consider a plan to build an urban farm on the roof of a multistory car park in the British city.
The proposal was put forward by Slow Food Birmingham, a grassroots organization that promotes hyperlocal food production, with the aim of “turning gray space to green, productive space” that benefits the local community.
“We hope that the project will foster valuable conversations about the city’s food system and create a model for change, championing hyperlocal food production and education,” the organization said.
It is part of Slow Food, a global initiative founded in 1986 in Bra, northeastern Italy, that promotes localized food production and traditional cooking. Through its worldwide network of community-focused projects it works to preserve local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast food, and boost awareness and interest in what people eat and where it comes from.
In Saudi Arabia, Slow Food is in the process of creating a network of communities in all 13 regions of the country, with the objective of safeguarding and promoting traditional Saudi food heritage.
In Birmingham, meanwhile, in addition to the urban farm proposal, the local Slow Food group’s plans for the Jewellery Quarter, a major district in the city, which is located in England’s West Midlands region, include greenhouses, a communal space and garden, an educational center and a cafe.
If approved, the farm would provide locally-produced food for the community, promote the benefits of sustainable farming, and help to reduce carbon emissions.
“Our proposal is part of a system rethink designed to provide food security as we cope with a changing world,” said Kate Smith, Slow Food Birmingham’s founder and projects lead.
“One of the goals is to be able to show people that we are in the middle of a city and we are growing food 12 months of the year.
“We want to be bringing the community in and giving them an opportunity to get their hands dirty, talking about what food they can buy and how they might cook it.”
Urban Design Hub, which produced the plans for the project, said it hopes it is given a green light by the council and can function as a “catalyst for reconnecting the local community to healthier and locally grown food.”
Smith added that the initiative, described as the first of its kind, might serve as a model for other communities, not only in the UK but worldwide, and expressed hopes that her group will be able to teach others how to replicate it in the near future.