‘Let’s get Bedfordshire growing!’ says Cranfield team behind Lockdown Lettuce Beds project

Residents who take part will be asked to grow lettuces for eight weeks

Scientists at Cranfield University, in collaboration with University of Liverpool and Lancaster University, are inviting residents across Bedfordshire to get involved in their latest citizen science research project by growing lettuce in their gardens.

Residents who get involved will be sent lettuce-growing kits containing seeds, a logbook, a trowel, plant labels, markers, and sample collection kits.

The scientists are exploring whether growing more of our own food, particularly in urban areas, could lead to healthier lifestyles, improved wellbeing, and better access to healthy and nutritious food, especially during crises such as the current pandemic.

Local residents who participate will be asked to grow lettuces for eight weeks, collecting samples and completing a weekly questionnaire. All participants will receive a gift voucher for their participation in the scheme.

Lockdown Lettuce Beds is part of the Rurban Revolution research project. This brings together expertise in ecosystems, psychology, plant sciences, and supply chains from Lancaster University, Cranfield University and University of Liverpool.

Dr Natalia Falagan, Academic Fellow in Food Science and Technology at Cranfield University, said:

“We are looking for people across Bedfordshire to get involved in Lockdown Lettuce Beds. Whether you are green-fingered or have never grown a vegetable or plant in your life, if you live in Bedfordshire, we need your help.

“While the project is for over-18’s, this could be a great activity for parents and carers to do with children during the summer holidays. This should be fun for all involved and will hopefully deliver some really impactful results for our wider research. Let’s get Bedfordshire growing.”

Over the two years, they will be building an interdisciplinary evidence base on how urban green spaces and growing potentially influences:

Healthy and sustainable diets by improving availability, access and consumption of fruit and vegetables

Food production in terms of quantity, quality and safety and the resilience of the UK food system

Ecosystem service delivery, both inside and outside cities

To participate, residents must be over 18 and live in Bedfordshire and email lockdownlettuce@liverpool.ac.uk.

Dr Sofia Kourmpetli, Lecturer in Plant Sciences at Cranfield University, said:

“There is great potential to increase the amount of home-grown food particularly in urban areas. Engaging in food-growing activities has proven to have important health benefits.

“It could also increase a household’s sense of resilience and wellbeing during hard times, such as the Covid-19 lockdown. Lockdown Lettuce Beds will help us get a better understanding of these benefits and how we can encourage more people to ‘grow their own.”

Rurban Revolution is funded by through the Global Food Security ‘Resilience of the UK Food System Programme’, with support from the research councils BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and The Scottish Government.