Moosa Khan, Claire O Brien, Yaqi Zhang, Jiaoyan Yang and Sampada Muralidhar
University of the Arts London, UK
In 2020, Southwark became one of the first UK boroughs to recognize the urgent need to act to mitigate the effects of climate change. One of the key drivers of this climate emergency was identified as consumption.
Wanton consumption leads to 6.6 billion tonnes of food getting binned each year in the UK alone. This is shocking when contrasted with the fact that recently, 1 in 10 UK households experienced food insecurity with 4.7 million adults and 2 million children having scant access to safe and nutritious food for growth.
The emerging cost of living crisis has aggravated things further, with vulnerable families having to choose between eating and heating. Reports emerged of adults in the household having to forego meals in order to feed their children. According to think tank The Resolution Foundation, around 1.3 million Britons will be pushed into absolute poverty.
In research, the presence of silos was identified as one major barrier to addressing food insecurity and hunger.
All the actors and stakeholders involved in addressing Hunger had the same goal, but with different approaches. Each stakeholder had different metrics of success as well; For example, a Corporation would have a Corporate Social Responsibility budget to exhaust, while an Academic would have a research thesis as their end goal. This made collective action towards a solution challenging.
We engaged with several community initiatives around Food that were proposed or being carried out by citizens in Southwark.
Citizens like Vanessa Colosse who runs John Evelyn Community Garden expressed a desire to bring conversations happening within council boardrooms out in the open for discussion.
Local Government action proxies like Community Southwark agreed that what the borough was missing was a common space to facilitate both dialogue and action between the various actors.
We studied the relationship communities and individuals have with their local green spaces and saw potential in community gardens to evolve into these spaces.
Adopting a Design-through-Research methodology, we roleplayed and reimagined the gardens as a sandbox for testing new ideas via Diegetic Prototypes.
This enabled stakeholders in the gardens to shape and engage with their preferred future and develop it for implementation.
The Incubation Garden was thus created – a shared space for Council, Community, Academia and Businesses to grow and prototype collective action.
We identified different ‘growth zones’ working to address consumption challenges – including behaviours, skills, innovations and policies. These Zones allow stakeholders to work in context with each other and thus create new approaches and innovations around Hunger and
Through this space, the garden seeks to improve vulnerable citizens’ access to healthy food, knowledge of nutrition, support and urban agricultural practices to grow food, with the aim of influencing citizens’ consumption behaviour for the better.
The Incubation Garden aims to become a model which brings about a change in the way society and its stakeholders, perceive and approach issues of consumption and hunger in society.