sprouts 392x272Dan Keech is making a presentation at the Critical Foodscapes conference today, 7th July, at Warwick University.

The keynote speaker is Chiara Tornaghi from Coventry Univeristy, who is an expert in urban agriculture, as well as some well known practitioners including Pam Warhurst of Incredible Edible Todmorden, and Jeremy Iles, formerly Director of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

The emphasis of the conference is to look with supportive but critical eyes at urban gardening. For some years urban gardening and urban agriculture have been areas of much activity and activism, but in terms of the influence they have on either the dominant food system, or on the way we generally tend to eat, their effect has been minimal.

Dan will be presenting a paper entitled ‘Urban Agriculture – charting new democratic governance for food production? The example of Bristol, UK’, which was written together with Matt Reed. The paper suggests that the expectation placed on urban gardening is perhaps a bit too heavy. By presenting their analysis of interviews, social media traffic and print media reportage (the latter covering 2015 – Bristol’s year as European Green capital), Dan will suggest essentially three things:

  • urban agriculture networks in Bristol aren’t necessarily trying to tear down the system, so much as experiment with citizenship, in order to augment the constrained state (constrained by austerity, planning regs, publicity considerations, hierarchies of environmental priorities)
  • the Bristol food networks conform to understandings of social movements suggested by Manuel Castells, and especially that their use of social media/internet creates creates hybrid spaces where this citizenship is played out
  • that there is a big gap in the profile of food issues in the social media traffic compared to the print media, as demonstrated in almost no mention of food in press coverage of the Bristol Green Capital period, even though almost 20% of Bristol Green Capital’s funding went on community food projects.

More information on the conference can be found on the University of Warwick website.

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