Platform. The everyday portal for sharing knowledge and intelligence on sustainability across Greater Manchester.

Update: Sustainable consumption and production under MACF

The food we purchase, prepare and consume affects our health. It can determine our life chances; and it shapes our social life and cultural expression. It impacts on biodiversity, pollution and land distribution and says something about who we are and what society we want.

Food is a vital resource. It makes up around 13% of Manchester’s carbon footprint. This includes food waste created as part of the production and distribution process, as well as food thrown away by residents. The complex relationship between consumption and production behind this figure constitutes a number of threats to poverty, ecology and health.

Intervention in this cycle is one of the main objectives of the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) sub-group of the city’s Climate Change Action Plan – Manchester – A Certain Future. It plans to take forward and develop the work of the Sustainable Food Steering Group which was set up to identify and coordinate partnerships to reduce food waste, improve the nutrition of takeaways, challenge public procurement practises and end the growing ‘heat or eat’ dilemma faced by many families.

Real food’ for Wythenshawe: real food for everyone?

Real Food Wythenshawe project, now in its second year is designed to engage with those most in need of access to healthy food and exercise by creating a network of community growing and cooking initiatives. It hopes that by increasing the understanding of the links between a sustainable diet, health and people’s everyday environment, particularly reconnecting young people with the source of their food, local people across Wythenshawe will gain skills, fun and experiences which bring lasting benefits.

Hundreds of people in Wythenshawe have already been engaged by a year of public events. This included a community cooking event and identifying Potential growing spaces with existing community groups. A Geodome for indoor growing has been erected with Manchester College, building on urban agriculture pioneers such as Salford’s Biospheric Foundation. Juicing and dehydrating equipment has been purchased to turn available harvests into products for storage and sale. And a farm shop selling vegetables, eggs and honey has been opened as part of the plan to develop Wythenshawe Park and Farm into a hub for food growing and education.

Jacqueline Naraynsingh, Programme Manager for Real Food Wythenshawe (RFW), highlights the link between food, fuel and health:

“Limited access to electricity and gas leaves people reluctant to use their cookers, often relying on more predictable ready meals and takeaways. The resultant loss of cooking skills is compounded by the lack of affordable fresh food outlets, physical isolation and a lack of educational and employment opportunities.”

The goal of providing affordable, healthy food often sits at odds with that of strengthening locally or organically grown food supplies, given the relative cheapness of industrially farmed food.

Real Food Wythenshawe’s small staff team are fully aware of the contradictions that emerge when trying to translate ideals into reality. The goal of providing affordable, healthy food often sits at odds with that of strengthening locally or organically grown food supplies, given the relative cheapness of industrially farmed food. Spare time to farm or spare cash to buy sustainably farmed food are, for many, by no means givens. So potential solutions being explored by RFW and their partners include low-energy cookers, community cooking ambassadors, and community ‘larders’ to provide small quantities of cooking ingredients. Small group sessions are being organised to complement these initiatives with local residents, to explore ways of making it easier to eat, store and cook healthy and more sustainable food.

Jacqueline hopes that ultimately the programme will provide learning that can be replicated in other parts of Greater Manchester through the Sustainable Food Steering Group.

Real Food Wythenshawe is a source of experimentation, a site where ultimately unsustainable food systems can be re-adapted at the local level. Despite considerable obstacles, it will support people to take a degree of control over their own food supplies, with the aesthetic, health and social benefits that accessing green space as a community brings. RFW offers Wythenshawe an opportunity to reinvent itself as a ‘Garden City’ and contribute to the regeneration of the whole area by tackling poverty through new visions, new partnerships and new friendships.

Further reading:
Berners-Lee (2013), ‘Sustainable Food in Manchester’, Small World Consulting

The Total Carbon Footprint of Greater Manchester (2011) Small World Consulting static=1 },

See also: Debbie Ellen and Lucy Danger’s essay on Sustainable Food:}.

Charlotte Spring (Jan 28 2014)

The Growing Manchester Programme


The Food Futures Growing Manchester programme supports new and existing community food growing projects to ensure that local people with an enthusiasm to grow can access the training and support their project needs to succeed. Following on from a successful evaluation of the programme, we will soon be launching a new round of Growing Manchester, inviting new groups to tap into the available expertise whilst working with existing groups to further develop their projects.

Looking to refresh and build upon the success of Growing Manchester in the last few years, 'Sow the City' will be working with us to manage and deliver our horticultural and environmental training and support, bringing their expertise to help groups at every stage in their vision to grow food and live sustainably.  So, if you are new to food growing or simply want to take your project to the next level, why not contact us to register an interest or find out more about Growing Manchester? 

Contact Lindsay Laidlaw, Public Health Manchester Programme Officer on or 0161 234 3540

For more information on the MACF SCP group contact