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Can Manchester feed itself?

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Who: A collaboration between Manchester Museum, Manchester University and the Sustainability Consumption Institute, scientists, and local schools

What:  Events focused on exploring food security in a changing world and community groups

Why: To raise awareness and understanding of issues of food security

Where: Manchester

When: 2010

Project Description

Children looking at plant pictureA series of public and school engagement activities took place in Manchester to highlight important issues surrounding food security and urban agriculture, which culminated in a 'Finale Day' on 3rd July 2010 at Manchester Museum. Funding for the Finale day was provided by a BBSRC public engagement award. The activities were coordinated by Dr Amanda Bamford, from the Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS) at University of Manchester, Anna Bunney from Manchester Museum and Jane Rafferty from the Sustainability Consumption Institute. The strength of this programme was the diversity of people involved ranging from local schools, community initiatives to University of Manchester scientists.

Children engaging with plantsThe school engagement activity was a long-term in-school project by Matthew Moss High school, in collaboration with Dr Amanda Bamford, which involved building an aquaponic system at the school. The school also visited the FLS teaching laboratories to measure the chlororophyll content of their plants. While they were at the University, they also visited the FLS Botanical Gardens to view the amazing range of plants growing there. Importantly, they also came along to the Finale day with posters and a demonstration of their project. Funding for the school project was provided by RCUK and BBSRC. An FLS public engagement award also helped towards the cost of their visit to the laboratories.

FLS staff, Manchester Museum, FLS postgraduates, FLS undergraduates, teachers, pupils, local businesses and charities were all on hand to help make the day a huge success. Activities on the finale day were many and wide-ranging; from story time by the Secret Seed Society, films, display of ancient artifacts involved in food production, to charities on sustainable living and a hydroponic supply business. In addition to the activities at the Museum, visitors could also book a trip to the FLS Botanical gardens.

"It's great that people are so open and friendly. Very accessible.'' Participant


  • To provide opportunity for local communities, schools, university scientists and students, museum staff and the public to interact together to discuss and present ideas around urban agriculture and food security in the future

What went well?

Having a range of groups represented from the local school, both staff and students from the Faculty and Institute, and local businesses meant that the activities had a wide appeal.

''Learning about plants was fun.''

What didn't work so well?

Would have liked even more local community groups involved but our final date turned out to clash with a big community day.

Resources required

Lots! Good space with access to public was provided by Manchester Museum.

Top tips

  • A great deal of planning went into the various activities so plan well in advance
  • Local communities groups and charities were often already booked when we contacted them with our date, so contact these groups before finalising dates


Name: Amanda Bamford

Name of organisation: Faculty of Life sciences , University of Manchester.


Telephone: 0161 275 4293