Extract from Chair’s welcome to Dr Susan Parham
“Madam Mayor Ladies and Gentleman
A very warm welcome to all and many thanks for joining us this evening to listen to Dr Susan Parham who will be talking to us on Food and Urbanism, which I think is still unbelievably overlooked as a key factor in planning and designing cities and indeed retrofitting and urban extensions. I am thoroughly enjoying (and excuse the pun) finding plenty of food for thought in reading Susan’s excellent recent publication on the subject which looks at an enormous array of highly pertinent topics. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Urbanism-Susan-Parham/dp/0857854534
I hope Look! are at the very least contributing to bringing Food and Urbanism to its rightful place in the heart of our city.
At the closing event of last year’s Sustainable St Albans week “Coming Together to Create a Sustainable St Albans” our secretary made the pledge, that as part of learning and sharing with the community, we would ensure sustainable issues was prominent in any design charrette we hosted and at our informal events. So was he on sure ground, especially in relation to food and urbanism?
At the centre of Look! is our draft design codes and I take one design code as an example of the synergy between the topic for tonight and our draft design codes. Design Code F6 states ‘Developers shall plant and maintain at least one local, low maintenance, edible tree/shrub per unit developed. The applicant shall seek advice from the Council with regard to species, appropriate location and ground preparatory work. The overall selection of species shall be guided by the ‘City Centre Living Streetscape’ Design Competition.’ https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/competitions/licompetitions/li-competitions-office-services/
Hopefully this will start us thinking of the role we all have to play in highlighting and making sure we do all we can to ensure that connection between food and urbanism are high on the agenda as we collectively plan for our future.”
“Aboyne Lodge is a primary school in the centre of St Albans. The school buildings were constructed in 1955 on the site a mansion house – Aboyne Lodge – within grounds that contained remnants of a fruit orchard. A few of the fruit trees survive today, located in the school playground.
As a parent of children at the school, I noticed that come autumn the apples were falling on to the ground and not being used. A few conversations later with school staff I established that the school found the apples to generally be a problem as they required sweeping up. Occasionally, some would be used by teachers or parents for cooking but the majority went in the compost bin.
At that time the local independent cake maker The Pudding Stop was establishing and put out a message that they would use local windfall apples for baking if available. I contacted them and we soon worked out the practical aspects – the kids and I would collect the apples and deliver them to the bakery. The Pudding Stop would then use the apples and in return provide cakes to sell at school fayres with proceeds going back into school coffers.
This process established a virtuous cycle - utilising a local resource, adding value and making a new connection between school, community and business.
This system worked for a few years but The Pudding Stop moved into new premises with little storage space. So a new approach has been taken – children now collect the apples and bag them up. Then they sell the bags with apple recipes to parents, again making good use of the otherwise wasted resource.
As a result, harvest time is busy – there are a lot of apples – and it just goes to show that food production can have a permanent place, even in a dense city centre. I would suggest that there is, in fact, room for more fruit trees, not just on school sites, but across the city.”
Dr Susan Parham has shared her two presentations with Team Look!, should you wish to receive these for study purposes only please email firstname.lastname@example.org