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How to campaign for better food

Zofia Walczak & Matilda Lee

29th June, 2010

Concerned about the state of your food? Here are some ways to tackle the problem at root - from community gardens to animal welfare

Animal welfare

Compassion in World Farming campaigns to end all cruel factory farming practices, including banning battery cages and ending live transport of animals.

Pig Business: behind the film they tried to ban

Read the Ecologist interview with the director of Food Inc.

Local and community food growing

Capital Growth aims to help create 2,012 new community food growing spaces in London by 2012. Capital Growth was launched by Rosie Boycott, the Mayor's 'food czar', and is managed by London Food Link and environmental charity Sustain. The scheme offers funding and training for communities to start food growing spaces, for example in housing estates.

Seedy Sunday is the UK's biggest community seed swapping event which takes place every February in Brighton and Hove, in southern England. It's equally a campaign to protect biodiversity and to prevent total control of the seed supply by large companies. Started in 2001, the event has grown to include talks, demonstrations, displays, films, plant sales, second hand books, as well as a crèche, café and other activities.

Growing communities is a social enterprise started by Julie Brown and run by local people and volunteers in Hackney, East London. It is working to create a more sustainable food system, supporting small organic farmers through a box scheme and farmers' market, and growing salad crops on park land in Hackney.

Local food is high on the Transition Towns agenda. You can read advice from key players Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins on the 10 ways to start a local food group here.

Food Up Front supports people growing food in unused outdoor spaces, including front gardens, balconies, windowsills and back gardens, especially for those who do not have access to allotments.

Garden Organic is a UK organic growing charity, dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food, and widening participation. In March 2010 it launched the One Pot Pledge Campaign, aiming to get everyone growing at east one pot of their own food, no matter how little space they have.

The Permaculture Association offers courses, resources, links and a network to introduce people to permaculture in the context of different environments.

An Ecologist article on local residents who transformed a derelict site into a community garden can be read here.

A guide to starting a food co-op can be read here.

The London Orchard Project organises planting of new community orchards in London's unused spaces, maps existing fruit trees to ensure they are not wasted, and this year starts work on rejuvenating and managing existing neglected orchards. Read more about the London Orchard Project here.

Allotments

The Allotment Regeneration Initiative supports individuals, communities and councils in developing allotment regeneration projects and campaigns for the creation of brand new allotment sites in the UK.

Allot More Allotments helps groups to lobby for more local allotment provision, especially on local and national government level. It was set up as a reaction to long allotment waiting lists. Includes tips on contacting MPs.

Landshare is a national movement of more than 45,000 people, which aims to put people who want to grow food but don't have land in touch with people who have land but are not using all of it. Also offers all the legal and practical advice associated with land sharing.

Read an Ecologist article on turning farmland into allotments here.

Widening participation

Carry On Gardening helps people with disabilities to start or continue gardening and growing food.

Thrive is a small national charity that conducts research and offers training for people with disabilities to take part in gardening.

Groundwork supports communities in need, working with partners to help improve the quality of people's lives, their prospects and potential and the places where they live, work and play.

Food Procurement - Hospitals and Prisons

Good Food for our Money is Sustain's campaign to improve the health and sustainability of publicly funded food in public services.

An Ecologist article on transforming the food of the Royal Brompton Hospital can be read here.

Ecologist investigation: 'What if... Government bought green?' can be read here.

Supermarket power

A guide to stopping a supermarket in your area can be read here.

Tescopoly is an alliance of organisations concerned with the negative influence of supermarket power.

GM and Pesticides

Pesticides Action Network aims to eliminate exposure to and the presence of toxic pesticides in the UK and internationally.

The Genetic Engineering Network (GEN) web site includes resources for people wanting to oppose genetic engineering and an up-to-date list of where GM crops are being grown in the UK.

Friends of the Earth have a campaign for a GM-free Britain.

GeneWatch UK monitors developments in genetic technologies from a public interest, human rights, environmental protection and animal welfare perspective.

GMWatch provides a regular update service on developments in the world of genetic engineering.

Greenpeace Europe campaigns to say no to Genetic Engineering.

Save the bees

The Save the Honey Bee campaign encourages people to get into beekeeping, teach others, and raise awareness.

The British Beekeepers association launched in March 2010 an Adopt a Beehive fundraising campaign  for 'armchair beekeeepers'

The Ecologist has a guide those wanting to keep their own bees here.

An article on beekeeping for ecology, economy and food security in Africa can be read here.

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