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Critical Foodscapes Conference

'What does the future hold for urban gardening?'

A One Day Conference on July 7th 2016 at the University of Warwick, UK (MS.03, Zeeman Building (Maths and Stats) campus map)

Confirmed speakers:

Dr Chiara Tornaghi (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University)

Pam Warhurst (Founder - Incredible Edible Todmorden)

Jeremy Iles (Green Future Associates | ex-CEO of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (2000-2016)).

Rebecca Marshall (Community Land Advisory Service | Royal Agricultural University)

Dr Brian Elliott (Portland State University, US)

Alice Taherzadeh (The Pod)

Full programme here


Urban gardening* has long promised radical alternatives to industrialised food production and the organisation of modern urban spaces. Yet despite recent increases in popularity and a conspicuous proliferation of its forms, urban gardening appears to have had minimal material influence on how we eat or how we live.

It is now time to ask what the future holds for urban gardening. What evidence is emerging of urban gardening’s social and environmental impacts? Can such forms really mitigate some of the major crises of our times – from mental illness and unemployment to the unsustainability of our food systems – or do they remain a fringe concern? And what changes – at the level of policy or grassroots mobilisation (or otherwise) – are required to maximise the impact and reach of future iterations of urban gardening?

Warwick University Community Garden

This conference seeks to put critical – but constructive – pressure on some of the assumptions which underlie current theory and practice of urban gardening; as such, the conference organisers welcome papers encompassing a broad range of approaches and perspectives (whether research-, practitioner- or participant-orientated) considering the past, present and future of urban gardening. The conference will take the UK as its main focus but will accommodate international perspectives where possible. Papers might address, though not be limited to, the following topics:

  • Community gardens

  • Community supported agriculture

  • Urban and peri-urban food production

  • The cultural representation of urban gardens

  • Urban gardening and…

- local and/or national food policy
- grassroots activism
- food production
- mental health
- town planning
- education
- environmental/economic/social sustainability
- emergency food aid

Please send 300 word abstracts and 100 word biographies to Dr C Maughan (IAS Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick) by Monday 18th April 2016:

Following the conference, speakers and delegates are encouraged to submit papers to a proposed special issue with the journal, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, subject to the peer-review process.

Due to generous support from the IAS and Warwick Food GRP, this conference is free and open to all. To register for the conference click here.

*For more information on Urban Gardening see recent article by Dr Maughan published by the American Anthropological Association.