Sustainability is about how we choose to live our lives. Legacy development aims to enable good choices.
It’s a complicated, often political, subject and there may be other valid considerations but common sense suggests that food miles, intensive arable monoculture, sea based salmon farming, and contra seasonal consumption of imported vegetables are probably not a great idea if we want to preserve the planet in terms of carbon emissions and the fragile eco systems that the natural world supports. The world needs more food. There are limited resources, including a shortage of water, to serve a growing population. The question is how far can we afford to compete with nature to feed ourselves? It’s inevitable that the population of a wealthy country tends to want more having developed tastes based on prosperity. A more sustainable approach might involve growing much more of our own food locally without straining the environment. Energy in transporting food could be saved and we might be able to eat more healthily if we were discerning about how food is grown and sourced. It follows that in creating new places to live we should at least look at opportunities to grow and provide food in a sustainable manner. As part of the wider Ashfield Estate’s Food and Farming Strategy the Partnership will make provision for food production close to and within the fabric of the three development schemes.
Each building at Luzborough, Hoe Lane, and Whitenap has been, or will be, designed not so much to stand out but to contribute to making the place. Phases and streets may reveal a particular character but they will conform to the overall Masterplan which aims to secure the traditional Hampshire, specifically the Test Valley, vernacular.
To reconnect the community comprising the expanded population of Romsey and other residents of the area with the surrounding landscape through the medium of food and farming. The philosophy behind this vision is the recognition that the consumption of local food produced in a sustainable manner delivers multiple benefits to a community, reinforcing its identity and connectedness with the local ecology including its soil, the promotion of health and wellbeing, plus multiple other social, cultural and economic benefits. To deliver this connectedness the project’s aims and objectives should include development of a housing plan which is designed specifically around the connection of that community with its food production system.
These systems should be designed in such a way that they would enable the community and linked residential communities, its citizens and those of linked residential communities to derive a greater percentage of its affordable staple food from the Ashfield Estate farm and other linked local food and farming projects as is consistent with the nature of the food products which can sustainably be produced on those same farms taking into account soil, climate and landscape constraints.
To organise the physical design of the production, processing, distribution and retailing of such food products to ensure they reach the individuals that consume them in ways which are as affordable, convenient and attractive as possible.
To set standards for food production which ensure those systems of production maintain and build natural and social capital and minimise/avoid environmental pollution whilst at the same time promoting the health and wellbeing of the citizens who eat it.
The design of such food systems should be aligned to the principle of the circular economy, obeying the law of return of all nutrients and food byproducts including the recycling of organic waste produced by the community through composting.
To link the above food system with parallel education programmes in schools which are designed to promote the awareness of young people of the systemic interrelatedness of their health and wellbeing with the story behind their food.
To ensure that such food systems are designed in such a way that they are of an appropriate scale to benefit from citizen engagement, in the production systems using models such as the Community Supported Agriculture approach.
To monitor the success or otherwise of the Ashfield farm initiative using a set of sustainability metrics against which the productivity and economic return, soil, water, air, energy, nutrient cycling, plant nutrition, livestock, resilience and social and economic benefits can be measured in time.