Birmingham’s population fed from locally-grown produce?

If Birmingham were to source its food locally, how large a catchment area would we need?

Could Herefordshire beef, Cotswold sheep, Vale of Evesham fruit and vegetables and the arable lands of Shropshire and Warwickshire supply us with enough food?

On this map, the thin yellow square represents the land required under the ideal conditions of highly fertile soils being intensively farmed with great growing weather; i.e. a hectare being able to support 10 people.

The thicker yellow square represents the amount of land required were the fertility slightly above that of average conditions according to the UN figures given earlier; i.e. a hectare of land supporting five people.

(Birmingham has never been an agricultural centre because of its location on an exposed plateau. Its thin soils, inclement weather and lack of a navigable river or plentiful water supply meant it couldn’t support a population in pre-industrial times. So the actual agricultural yields are likely to be much lower than those quoted from the UN. There are, as many know, areas of agricultural productivity in the city hinterlands, away from the conurbation.)

Both the scenarios above assume that no-one is actually living here, nor is there any built infrastructure, such as motorways, roads, railways or buildings of any kind . . . and that people would only eat what could be produced here so, for example, no coffee, chocolate, few fruit, no fish or prawns but lots of root vegetables, bread and lentils with a bit of chicken and pork and dairy!

Moreover under this scenario the population of the local conurbation, plus that of Derby, Leicester, Worcester, Shrewsbury and everyone in between would need to go live elsewhere — along with their infrastructure and the agricultural lands needed to feed them.

note: This is an extract from the Birmingham Scenarios Report: The readiness is all: What it takes to feed the city.

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