Rooted in Hull (RiH) is an innovative Urban Agriculture Project currently being developed on St Peter Street in the centre of Hull.
The role of the farm is to provide opportunities for people to learn about food and where it comes from, experience unusual food and understand nutrition. The farm will also interpret the impact on the environment of food, farming and distribution. The learning opportunities will be structured to support improving health and wellbeing.
A large benefit in being involved in Rooted is the sense of community. It is a place of sanctuary.
Working in partnership with local business, RiH has taken over a vacant development site owned by Wedge Galvanizing and with the help of a broad coalition of community groups, local and national charities, it is transforming a long standing derelict site into community space and micro enterprise hub based around food, farming and the environment that will support city residents where it is most needed.
The award winning concept of the farm structure is unique, based on a high quality, entirely mobile, infrastructure allowing it to make use of a vacant development site that is not needed for the time being. Yet when it is required the whole project can be mobilized to another site allowing development to take place. This approach has many advantages: it will increase productivity of land; it will showcase the contribution of participants, many of which may be the most excluded in society, raising confidence and aspiration; it will enhance the cityscape providing multiple ecosystem services; it will be movable and flexible, adapting and changing with the natural dynamics of city development; it allows for modules to be added over time as funding permits.
Crucially, RiH aspires to develop an economically self-sustaining, income generating, social enterprise model providing a strong and resilient base from which the project can be developed and protect itself from the boom and bust cycle created by a dependency on grant funding.
RiH works particularly closely with Hull College supporting 14-16 year old students to deliver real projects in the community. To date, students have converted four shipping containers to create a multipurpose space, an office, a shop and a catering unit. They have also manufactured raised beds, benches and fitted solar power. With us, the College and students will continue to play a key role in growing the build infrastructure to help develop our micro enterprise related to food, farming and the environment.
As an accessible community resource, Rooted in Hull aims to –
- provide education and training about growing food, preparing healthy food from fresh ingredients and promoting healthy eating.
- provide space and activities that will enhance health and wellbeing and lift aspirations
- interpret the impact of existing agriculture and distribution systems of food resources on the environment and society
- be a platform for communicating alternative approaches to food growing and distribution
- celebrate and interpret food and its links to culture and identity
- provide a model approach to city regeneration with particular emphasis on maximising the sustainable productivity of temporary land
- provide a pathway for non-traditional groups to enter agriculture and promote job creation in agriculture and food.
Public Health England said that by mid June 2018, many children had consumed all the sugar “allowed” by health experts for the entire year. One in three children leave primary school overweight. Writing in the ‘i’ newspaper (20/6/18), Yasmin Alibhai-Brown attributes much of this problem to economic factors. She says, “Families on low incomes show their love to their kids by feeding them chocolates and crisps”, and points out that a £3 tub of ice-cream will feed 6 people. Her conclusion, “Poor people are more likely to be fatter and more unhealthy than the better off.” The problem isn’t limited to children. We are the most obese nation in western Europe.
The statistics on life expectancy are startling. People in Hull live shorter lives than the national average and have less healthy years, we rank 146 out of 150 local authorities. But more shocking are the inequalities. There is a 12 year gap in average life spans for men between the poorest and the most affluent wards in the city.
Our experience is that many children have no concept of where food comes from. They have no understanding of the link between manufactured product and plants or livestock. Although healthy diet is not the only issue, it is clear that lack of knowledge and the availability of cheap calories based on salt, fat and sugar has led to the growth of takeaways and processed food, and fuelled the health crisis.