Salad City is a registered social enterprise.
Our purpose is to work with partners to create a Pathfinder City for actions that close the gap between economic and environmental ambitions using the ‘Circular Economy’. We use urban horticulture and the potential of markets for a locally sourced, locally produced and locally delivered sustainable food and drink to create new ways to connect people, institutions, aspirations and resources to deliver an agreed idea of ‘place’ and a shared sense of what ‘good’ looks like round here. We propose that this approach can act as a model for re-making the relationship between cities as units of consumption and cities as units of production. We are aiming for a model of devolution and participation that is taken and made rather than simply or only the one that is gifted.
Our principal focus is on the means by which an approach to the commercial food and drink market might generate such an economy. So our immediate practical aims are:
To grow high quality food (salad leaves, herbs, tomatoes) on a commercial basis in the city.
To maximize the use of unused or underused city land assets: recapturing and nurturing the historic and reputational identity of the City as a centre of production.
To grow in composted food waste, initially sourced from large public institutions, creating a closed loop production system that demonstrates the actual strengths of cities as collective resources for recycling and repurposing.
To develop a commercial model that reflects differences in ability to pay and real and current differentials in what is paid by different consumer groups.
To train and develop a future cohort of commercial urban growers to extend and sustain the relationship between skills, communities and food.
This approach would serve as a model for the development of a broader enterprise base, where making attracts makers and production and nurturing are made visible and visceral aspects of city life. We believe that this can be built into a vision of ‘The Circular City’, a pathway to a future urban environment where the city as a unit of consumption is in better balance with the city as a unit of participation and production. No other city, nationally or internationally, currently occupies this position: for example, there are great examples of urban growing, there are some weak examples of food waste recycling, but there is nothing that exploits the additionality of bringing these things together and making this a part of what a city does and how it behaves. There is certainly no example of a city that puts these behaviours and approaches at the service of its citizens.
We understand that this type of approach and such a programme of actions has some convergence with the aspirations of partners looking at the future development of Newcastle, and potentially other areas, as a ‘Smart City’ – how new approaches to old technologies and new technologies can be brought together to produce a different kind of city, used and enjoyed in different kinds of ways that might deliver higher levels of future proofing in different domains: in terms of skills, the environment, health, sustainability and the future expression of effective local democracy. Our proposition is that some of this aspiration can be achieved ‘on purpose’, by actively promoting various actions, and that some part can be achieved ‘accidentally’, as coincidental direct and indirect benefits, for example in terms of the impact of food waste on drains infrastructure and the effective management of surface water.