A box growing rosemarry, fennel, and basil


Investigating the environmental quality impact on urban food growing for better health and wellbeing.

Project Team:

  • Dr Felicity Crotty (Project PI- Royal Agricultural University)
  • Dr Louise Neilson (BIC Innovation (BIC))
  • Dr Rachel Clarke (Newcastle University)
  • Dr Bethan Mead (University of Liverpool)
  • Chloe Mellor (BIC Innovation (BIC))
  • Alice Britton (BIC Innovation (BIC))

Project Summary:

There has been increased interest in urban food production, both through healthy eating campaigns and due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst urban spaces have the potential to support a large amount of food production there is concern that there is a risk around contamination and lead levels in urban soils. However, engagement in home food growing has been identified as having protective effects over wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus should be promoted.

EQUI-Food aims to combine two investigative strands within urban food production. Firstly, comparison of soil quality in rooftop/vertical gardens and ground-level growing sites within the same areas. Secondly, understanding whether novice growers benefit through better nature-connectedness by measuring soil health, how this can be performed simply and whether there is a difference in perceived quality compared to environmental measures of soil quality?

Overall, we plan to create a soil health testing kit to be sent out to novice and experienced growers that allows them to simply self-assess and report measures of soil quality at allotment/home food growing sites alongside measuring how engagement with nature via ecosystem quality assessment impacts on nature connection, health and wellbeing. We will also develop greater understanding of the effect of location of urban growing system (roof/ground level) and see if this has an impact on soil quality. Through our results EQUI-Food will directly inform future academic research on urban agriculture across environmental soil science, psychology and human-computer interaction.