Making local food work
There has been a massive upsurge in interest in local food, food security and communities taking control of their own food security and supply. However, it’s become all too easy in recent years to jump into the car, head off to the supermarket and to fill up a trolley with pre-packaged food that’s been flown in from across the globe. As a result, consumers and producers have become increasingly disconnected from each other, and people have lost their connection with the land and the very essence of where their food comes from.
Making Local Food Work is rooted in the belief that the needs of consumers, producers and the land are interdependent and that community enterprise can strengthen and reconnect these links to the lasting benefit of all.
Making Local Food Work, a Big Lottery funded project made up of many well-respected national organisations, is promoting community food enterprises and local food in England. These partners in Making Local Food Work are concentrating on many different aspects of the local food economy:
The Soil Association is providing training, advice and support to help new Community Supported Agriculture projects. Community Supported Agriculture – an innovative social enterprise business approach where a food or farm enterprise has members who own ‘shares’ in the harvest and therefore also share in the risk. CSA enterprises range from allotments on farms and sponsoring apple trees, a community making an agreement in advance to purchase a particular crop from a producer, the community members making regular input of labour, to the purchase of land or related holdings or renting land and employing the producer. These enterprises engage and empower community members in the supply and/or production of their own food in a close relationship with a primary producer.
Sustain is promoting and supporting new and existing Food Co-operatives and Buying Groups using events, toolkits, free web-based systems and a dedicated food co-op website: www.foodcoops.org They are also working with food distribution enterprises around the country to improve the distribution infrastructure for local food.
The National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA) is helping are supporting new and existing Farmers’ Market Co-operatives, helping producers own and control over the markets they attend. Country Markets Ltd are extending their existing work, running over 450 weekly markets for home produced food, to provide additional “markets” to sell this produce through local shops.
The Plunkett Foundation is helping over 200 Community run Village Shops and more traditional independent shops to sell more local produce, providing valuable retail outlets for small-scale producers. They are also providing business support through advisors, mentors and toolkits to any qualifying community food enterprise.
The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is researching with producers, processors, distributors and retailers across the country to create food webs – mapping the local food economy, to influence local, regional and national policy.
Co-operatives UK, the trade body for all co-operative enterprises is providing hands on legal structure and governance support to all new and existing community food enterprises. If you are setting up a local food related enterprise or helping a group to set up then you could attend one of their free training sessions to get advice on choosing the right structure and organisation to create a robust sustainable organisation. For more information visit www.cooperatives-uk/mlfw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ring Mark on 0161 246 2907