CfP Food Localisation as Community-Building RGS-IBG AC2017

Food localisation has been widely promoted and analysed as bringing producers closer to consumers (Ilbery et al., 2005; Renting et al., 2003). This proximity takes many forms, which can be extended spatially through short food-supply chains; examples include producers as consumers, box schemes, farmers’ markets, farmers’ collective marketing, community gardens, etc. Beyond food per se, the process potentially links various societal problems and their solutions: ‘Through building a community a shared vision is created, leaders emerge, and complex problems like social exclusion, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition seem to connect in new ways and new people come together to think and act on solutions’ (Anderson, 2014).

To be considered for the session, please submit a title, author details, and an abstract of up to 250 words to L.Levidow[at] by Monday 13th February 2017.

In such initiatives, ‘community’ has become a ubiquitous term for practitioners and analysts alike. It is understood as a means, a characteristic and an ends of various activities such as food growing or distribution. As an adjective, ‘community’ often precedes several other words – e.g. development, capacities, cohesion, resilience, participation, enterprise, assets, empowerment, ownership, etc. (e.g. Kirwan et al., 2013, Tornaghi, 2014). Community can have many sites and forms, e.g. communal gardens, social enterprises, workers’ cooperatives, citizen-consumers, solidarity networks, etc.

Community processes have been analysed as ‘commoning’, i.e. creating new commons and defending them from enclosure. In an urban context, this process has been linked with Lefebvre’s concept of spatial autogestion ‘as a horizon we move towards but will never reach’ whereby ‘inhabitants themselves produce space in common’ (Purcell and Brown, 2005). Such activity can help communities to protect such spaces from ‘gentrification and development initiatives’ (Schmelzkopf 2002). Yet urban food initiatives can inadvertently serve as a vanguard of property development for gentrification, even in the name of community. Thus ‘local food’ and its relevant ‘community’ may remain ambiguous or even become contentious.

This session invites Abstracts on the above topics.


To be considered for the session, please submit a title, author details, and an abstract of up to 250 words to L.Levidow[at] by Monday 13th February 2017.

Renting, H.; Marsden, T.; Banks, J. 2003. Understanding alternative food networks: Exploring the role of short food supply chains in rural development, Environment and Planning A 35: 393-411.Ilbery, B.; Morris, C.; Buller, H.; Maye, D.; Kneafsey, M. 2005. Product, process and place: An examination of food marketing and labelling schemes in Europe and North America, European Urban Regional Studies 12: 116-132.

Anderson, M. 2014. Building Community Capacity through Urban Agriculture, MSc thesis,

Kirwan, J., Ilbery, B., Maye, D., Carey, J., 2012. More than Just Veg: Growing Community Capacity Through Local Food Projects. Newark: Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts,

Kirwan, J., Ilbery, B., Maye, D., Carey, J., 2013. Grassroots social innovations and food localisation: An investigation of the Local Food programme in England, Global Environmental Change 23: 830–37.

Purcell, M and Brown, J. 2005. Against the local trap: Scale and the study of environment and development, Progress in Development Studies 5(4): 279–297.

Schmelzkopf, K (2002) Incommensurability, land use, and the right to space: Community gardens in New York City, Urban Geography 23(4): 323–343.

Tornaghi, C. (2014) Critical geography of urban agriculture, Progress in Human Geography 38(4): 551–567.

Tornaghi, C. (2016) Urban agriculture in the food-disabling city: (re)defining urban food justice, reimagining a politics of empowerment, Antipode,

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