High Rise Harvest

A Slow Food Project created and led by Slow Food Birmingham

Slow Food Birmingham, part of Slow Food UK, has expressed delight at the news that its transformative plans to turn part of an underused multi-storey car park into an urban farm and green space have been given the go ahead by city planners. One councillor on the planning committee said “this will be a green jewel in the Jewellery Quarter’s crown’. Others noted it was a unique approach and a good opportunity for the city. 

The scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, is proposed for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and will “turn grey to green”, with a host of elements, including:

  • Greenhouses, mushroom farm and traditional veg patches; 
  • A community green space and garden;
  • An education hub, cafe and innovation kitchen, championing local and seasonal produce
  • A space to develop a new, circular approach to local food systems that minimises waste and pioneers more sustainable logistics practices

The urban farm, named High Rise Harvest, will supply fresh, locally grown produce to the community, while promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing emissions associated with food transportation, which often relies on carbon-intensive supply chains.

We believe that this initiative will not only provide a valuable source of healthy food, but also offer education opportunities and encourage community engagement. Supported by Slow Food businesses, the Biodiversity Centre will be home to the cafe and education hub that will enable partnerships with local schools and colleges to reconnect people with where their food comes from and how it’s grown, promoting an active interest and education in food cultivation and cooking.

“The project is unique in the UK: not only is it about creating a new source of healthy, nutritious and tasty food in an urban setting, it also provides a space for learning opportunities on how to minimise waste and pioneer a new food system collaboratively by bringing people together, particularly people from often overlooked sections of the community. Good food should be accessible to everyone.” Jordan Quinlan – Slow Food Birmingham chair.

“Our team has been working on this whole system approach for 3 years, while we still have many more stages to go till we start building, we are thrilled to have planning permission granted today.” Kate Smith, project lead.

Gather, the community garden and cafe which will be located on level 5 of the car park, which will also be home to a Biodiversity Centre and an education hub that will enable partnerships with local schools and colleges, as well as inviting hospitality businesses and growers, as it helps reconnect people with where their food comes from and how it’s grown, promoting the need for biodiversity in food cultivation and cooking. 

The Innovation Kitchen will support women from marginalised communities in our city to create strong viable food business, building on the project’s aims of providing our city with local, seasonal and sustainably grown food. 

High Rise Harvest will host a micro-consolidation hub, enabling easy deliveries of produce from the roof-top, as well as from sustainable growers in the Midlands, providing access to high quality food to residents, hospitality businesses, schools and charities throughout the city. Everything will be delivered by cargo bike, e-van and even a restored milk float, maintaining the project ethos of retrofitting rather than rebuilding. 

The project will further expand Slow Food Birmingham’s ‘Farm Shop in the City’, which has been running from local neighbourhood bar 1000 Trades since 2019. Currently run entirely by Slow Food Birmingham volunteers, the JQ Hub champions local producers and food businesses, and supports the local economy and local people by providing a fresher, tastier and greener alternative to the carbon intensive supply chains of major supermarkets. By buying from local farmers and producers, our JQ Hub provides a more sustainable alternative to the existing model as well as supporting the distribution of veg boxes, and food parcels to support people in food crisis. 

A collaboration with High Rise Harvest will see a network of food hub collection points enabled across the city.

A percentage of the Farm shop to the city goes towards supporting other Slow Food Birmingham projects, including gifting food to the Birmingham food justice network. You can support this work by making a donation directly to our Good Food Fund. https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/slow-food-birmingham/shop#/shop

Slow Food UK  have been supported in developing this project by the Food Trails project as well as the members of the city-wide Food Living Lab. 

We would also like to thank the West Midlands Combined Authority for supporting us through the WM Innovation Fund and the GBSLEP for taking the role of accountable body. 

Urban Design Hub, based in the JQ, worked with us to create this stunning retrofit demonstrator and a space that rethinks our food system.

Both Birmingham City Council and Slow Food are key stakeholders in the international Food Trails project that looks at creating sustainable food cities in the changing climate.

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