Skip to main content Skip to navigation

CFP: Critical Foodscapes: what does the future hold for urban gardening?

Critical Foodscapes was a one-day conference held on July 7 2016 at the University of Warwick. It was part-funded by the Warwick’s IAS and Food GRP. The conference was put together by Dr Chris Maughan (IAS Early Career Fellow) with the intention of bringing a ‘critical studies’ approach to the emerging research area of urban community food growing; that is to put critical – but constructive – pressure on some of the assumptions which underlie current theory and practice of urban gardening.

urban_gardening_photo1.jpgUrban 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.

Conference papers addressed such issues as the emerging (and as yet incomplete) evidence base for urban gardening’s social and environmental outputs; the extent to which forms of urban gardening can exacerbate processes of ‘gentrification’; the effectiveness of ‘urban food strategies’ and policies for extending the reach and impact of community food growing; and how to better organise community growing initiatives at the grassroots level.

The conference managed to convene a large range of perspectives, whether research-, practitioner- or participant-orientated. The conference keynote was Dr Chiara Tornaghi from the Centre for Agroecology Water and Resilience who advocated the need for an ‘agroecological urbanism’. We also heard from grassroots organisers and participants such as Pam Warhurst (Incredible Edible); Jayne Bradley (Edible Eastside), and Chesta Tiwari (Good Food Oxford) who spoke about the challenges they have faced in developing their projects. We got a policy perspective from Rebecca Marshall (ex-Community Land Advisory Service), as well as those at the cutting edge of research into the key cultural challenges faced by urban gardeners and food growers from Jeremy Iles (ex-CEO FCFCG), Anton Rosenfeld (Garden Organic), and Susan Haedike (Warwick). For a full list of talks please see the conference programme.

Most talks were recorded and are available in the links below, as are some of the conference presentations. Furthermore, conference proceedings are being developed into a special issue of Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, due to be published in the spring of 2017. For more information on this and the conference in general, please email

Conference recordings

Conference page (overview)
Intro/Keynote 1 - Dr Chiara Tornaghi | Panel 1 - Pam Warhurst | Rebecca Marshall | Dr Brian Elliott
Panel 2a 'Sustainability' | Dr George Martin | Jayne Bradley | Dr Marion Bonow
Panel 3a 'Organisation' / Keynote 2 - Chest Tiwari | Dr Ute Kelly | Ian Humphreys | Jeremy Iles