Skip to main content

Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food (SURF)

The Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food (SURF) carries out world-class research into food geographies - with a special attention for the role of cities and regions.

The Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food (SURF) carries out world-class research into food geographies - with a special attention for the role of cities and regions.

It builds on the interdisciplinary expertise of our long–established food research community at the School of Geography and Planning and Sustainable Places Research Institute to promote research, teaching and post-graduate training in the area of sustainable urban and regional food systems.


  • To design and take forward interdisciplinary and path-breaking research on urban and regional food systems.
  • To provide a focus for the School’s already extensive policy, advisory and stakeholder engagement activities from global (FAO, European Commission, WFP and UN-HABITAT) to national/local (DEFRA, Scottish and Welsh Government) work.
  • To disseminate research that contributes to meet today’s grand challenges about food security, sustainability and justice.
  • To support the training, career development and funding of researchers working on sustainable food systems.


We aim to be an international reference point for academic research on (and positive political/practical action for) food and urban and regional development. We integrate and generate new research on governance, development and policy strategies relating to food sustainability, security and justice in both developed and developing countries.

Specifically, our current work focuses on:

  • The opportunities for (and barriers to) to food security and sustainability.
  • The implications of food policies on the spatial and socio-economic relationships between different actors in the food system and between rural and urban areas.
  • The development effects of strategies that address the welfare and health needs of the human and animal population.

Our staff also have expertise and research interests in the relationship between conventional and alternative food networks, food consumption practices, the interplay between global and local food systems, community food growing, food policy and governance, public food procurement, food justice, animal geographies, and the community food sector.


Project nameFundedInvestigator(s)
Enabling the potentials of green growth: Stigma removal from pro-environmental business and consumer behaviourThe Finnish Academy, 2019-2025Herman, PI: Minna Kaljonen (Finnish Environment Institute).
FOODTRAILS: Building Pathways Towards FOOD 2030-led Urban Food PoliciesEuropean Commission, Horizon 2020 Programme, €14 million, 2020-2024Sonnino and Milbourne
Evaluation of Food PowerSustain 2018-2021Pitt
Drafting of the Framework for the Urban Food Agenda Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, $28,000, 2017-2018Sonnino (Expert advisor)
FOOD 2030 Expert GroupEuropean Commission, DG Research and Innovation, €12,00, 2017-2018Sonnino (Vice-Chair)
Transmango: Assessment of the impact of drivers of change on Europe's food and nutrition securityEuropean Union, 2014-2018Sonnino, Marsden and Moragues Faus
Farmers’ confidence in vaccines for bovine tuberculosisDEFRA, 2010-2015Enticott
Assessment of the application of the EU 2010 directive on meat chickens’ welfareDEFRA, 2012-2014Miele
An exploration of factors that influence the expansion of the area affected by endemic bTBDEFRA, 2012-2014Enticott
Urban, Peri-Urban and Regional Food Dynamics: Towards an Integrated and Territorial Approach to Food (PUREFOOD)European Commission, 2010-2014Sonnino
Pilot EU Centre on Animal Welfare and Research NetworkEUWelNet’ EU DG-Sanco, 2013Miele
Biodiversity and Food Security: Developing Collaborative Policy for Seagrass ConservationDarwin initiative for UK Overseas Territories Challenge Fund, 2012-2013Smith (participant)
Community action for climate change: Pathfinder learning reviewWelsh Government , 2012-2013Franklin
Assessing Sustainability in the Context of Food SecurityJoint Research Centre, European Commission, 2012-13Sonnino and Moragues Faus
Knowledge Brokerage Activities to Promote Sustainable Food Consumption and Production: Linking Scientists, Policymakers and Civil Society Organizations (FOODLINKS)European Commission, 2011-2013Sonnino and Morgan
Growing a Healthy Older Population: Community and allotment gardening amongst older people in South WalesNational Institute for Social Care and Health Research, 2011-2013Milbourne
Action Research: Solidarity Purchasing Groups in ValenciaGeneralitat Valenciana, Spain, 2011-2013Moragues Faus
Participation of small farmers in fair trade initiatives in Latin America: collective action, governance and social capitalCentre for Cooperation and International Development-UPV, 2011-2013Moragues Faus
The halal meat market in Wales, potentials and barriersWelsh Government, 2012Miele
Sustainable agri-food systems and rural development in the Mediterranean Partner Countries (SUSTAINMED)European Commission, 2011-2012Moragues Faus (participant)
Forecast for the Future: Scaling Up the Community Food SectorPlunkett Foundation, 2010-2012Morgan and Sonnino
Planting Spaces, Growing Places: Community gardening in disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods in the UKCardiff University, 2008-2012Milbourne
Community Grown Food in WalesWelsh Government, 2010-2011Milbourne
Cultures of veterinary regulationESRC, 2008-2010Enticott
Veterinary Capacity in WalesWelsh Government, 2008-2010Enticott
Framework of Action for the Urban Food AgendaFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, £21,727.00Sonnino
Implementing healthy and sustainable catering in Scotland's public sectorScottish Government, £22,510Sonnino
CERTAIN: Certification evaluation toolkit and methods for inspiring consumer trust in food producersBritish Academy, £9,540
Cardiff University Seedcorn Funding £6,640
Sanderson Bellamy, Baker, Herman
Study on food in cities – innovation for a sustainable and healthy production, delivery and consumption of food in citiesCommission of the European Communities £7,804Sonnino
The power of Fairtrade: Resilience, ethical development and wine networksThe Leverhulme TrustHerman
Knowing to Grow: Increasing the Resilience of Plant-centred Food Production SkillsEuropean Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, £120,000Pitt
The role and interplay between private and public governance within the land-coastal zone-sea interface and the impact on food securityBritish Academy, £311.371Baker, Sanderson Bellamy and Cullen-Unsworth

Meet the team

Academic staff



Visit the School of Geography and Planning Events page if you're interested in related topics.

Food Mapping

The Cardiff University Food Research Collective, together with partners, is running a series of workshops to collaboratively transform the Welsh food system and launch the Wales Sustainable and Just Food System Network Survey. This work aims to support a better understanding of the people, organisations and partnerships across Wales, who are working towards a sustainable and just food system, as well as highlighting where there are well-linked activities and where gaps might exist (geographically, in policy terms and with respect to resources). The results of an online survey will inform the development of a Wales Sustainable and Just Food System Network Map, which will be an open resource that anyone can interact with to support their activities.

This first workshop marks the start of a 12-month period of collaboration between food system stakeholders to create and enact an action plan for building a just and sustainable food system in Wales. After participating in this first workshop, we hope that you will join us in this process. This will include a further three workshops, occurring every three months, with some ongoing activities between workshops to continue to progress decided objectives. As a key stakeholder working towards food sustainability, health and/or food justice in the Welsh Food System, we would value your collaboration. The workshops will cultivate discussion and collaboration on topics such as: partnership building across the food system network; developing action plans according to collectively identified priority themes; applying for funding to support these action plans; and enacting action.

Past events

Appetite for Change

In October 2019 WISERD co-hosted a collaborative workshop with the Sustainable Places Research Institute and the Wales Governance Centre to discuss the environmental and social justice considerations of food systems in Wales. The event brought together a range of experts – including policy makers, civil society activists and other stakeholders to assess the major challenges facing current food systems, and to identify pathways towards creating a more sustainable and socially just system in Wales and beyond. The event was recorded by our fantastic visual facilitator Laura Sorvala.

Brexit and the future of food and farming

This event examined the impacts and possible future scenarios arising from Brexit in the food and farming sectors.

Since June 2016, the process of leaving the EU has highlighted the complex ways the farming and food sectors are connected to Europe through markets, regulation and policy. Brexit will require new systems of rural development, agricultural subsidies and ecosystem services, and new rules to address the sector's reliance on overseas labour.

Based on research with key stakeholders within the food and farming sectors over the last year, School of Geography and Planning's Professor Paul Milbourne, Professor Kevin Morgan and Dr Gareth Enticott and Dr Rebecca Sandover (University of Exeter) examined the key challenges facing food and farming, the potential future directions for food and farming and the views of overseas labour on Brexit currently working in the UK.

Big Hunger

In Big Hunger, author Andrew Fisher argued that many key anti-hunger advocates are missing an essential element of the problem: economic inequality driven by low wages. His research finds that efforts to end hunger, reduce obesity, and reform farm subsidies are compromised by corporate interests.

Andrew Fisher has worked in the anti-hunger field for twenty-five years, as the executive director of national and local food groups, and as a researcher, organizer, policy advocate, and coalition builder. He has led successful efforts to gain passage of multiple pieces of federal food and nutrition legislation. Andrew Fisher was joined by a panel of practitioners and academic experts, including Katie Palmer, Food Cardiff, and Eleanor Sanders, Trussell Trust Cardiff, to discuss the challenges facing the anti-hunger movement in the UK and the opportunities for building a progressive food justice movement.


School of Geography and Planning

We are a multi-disciplinary applied human geography and urban studies school.


Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.