Food from Dale End?
Having raised the issue of food security (along with a low-cost, convivial alternative-style means of regeneration) as a topic for their Annual Conference last week with publication of Roger Levett's essay in Fit for Purpose (see blog entry), the WMRO appears to have promptly ignored it all.
Food after all, appears as if by magic. When the Conference delegates ate their lunch, I'll bet they thought little, if at all, about the fragility of the just-in-time systems that got it there, let alone where on earth it originally came from.
Or, as pertinently, where it all went to. This includes what the food companies chuck at source or in transit, the freegan stuff the supermarkets discard, the 30% we throw away, and the dung we produce.
Any notion that our food supply could be threatened in a UK city in the 21st century seems alien, fanciful, irrelevant.
So no wonder that the Conference delegates chatted about other things, including 'Green Infrastructure, leadership and the value of the environment'. This apparently included 'joint working' and 'intergenerational thinking' plus the familiar if unfeasible and undesirable 'one voice', this time for 'the environment sector' whatever (whoever?) that might be - oil companies, if their recent adverts are to be believed.
Considering alternative food supplies won't seem so alien when shortages hit . . . well, home. All the evidence indicates that our highly 'efficient' food supply systems are unsustainable, a situation about to be dramatically exacerbated with nine billion of us on the planet. This is because the grub on our plate is not at the end of a system; it's part of a cycle.
Many of us urbanites will have to face our squeamishness about the fur and feathers, the heads, claws and paws, let alone the death of the animals we eat. And there's all that embarrassment to overcome about dung, theirs and ours, that's so very useful for the growing of plants.
With such matters at the back of my mind, I read about the long-running fiasco over Dale End with its abandoned Toys'R'Us, ugly carpark and more than tatty air.
Given its rural-sounding name . . . Is it too fanciful to suppose . . . ?
The landowners are the City Council. They have the means and power to create open space or parkland at Dale End instead of continuing to mutter for years about the possibility to reconsider to restart to rethink to rebuild yet more retail glories for the big boys.
No, you're right. The Council wouldn't make Dale End an open space for us. After all, we've got the prospect of a vast 8 acres at Eastside City Park. And they'd cite lawyers, planning processes, best value and all that time-consuming gubbins.
So any ideas to revert the end of our dale, mammon forfend, to cultivation, whether Havana-style horticulture (see also the BBC clip below) or a Dickson Despommier-style highrise farm (see also the Discovery Channel clip) does seem a stretch too far, even if it were sold as a trendy, money-spinning tourist attractor showcase.
Far too fanciful. (See the third video clip, Simon Baddelsey's on the Victoria Jubilee allotments in Handsworth.)
Yet our food security is a topic that will, alas, return.
The BBC on Havana horticulture
The Discovery Channel on vertical farms
Simon Baddesley's video about the Victoria Jubilee allotments in Handsworth