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Sustain / Eat Somerset

Eat Somerset

Taking steps towards sustainable, local food chains in south-west England

From June 2006 to Summer 2009 Sustain co-ordinated a food chain project in south west England. The project worked to increase trading between producer groups in and around Somerset and independent food retailers in the county, and create new markets in Bristol and Bath. These pages provide an archive of material, including case studies, advice on running meet the buyer events and other material that we hope will be of continuing use to people interested in offering practical support for local and sustainable food.

Key Eat Somerset documents
Download the project update, July 2009.
Visit the Eat Somerset case studies page.
Final report of the Eat Somerset project for the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.


The project offered local food and drink producers in and around Somerset the opportunity to develop trading links with:

  • regional retail groups within membership of the Association of Convenience Stores
  • new markets in the regional urban centres of Bristol and Bath, including retailers, street markets and public sector food providers (see information on public sector below and on the menu on the left).


The project worked to fulfil this aim by:

  • Identifying food and drink producers who wish to develop their businesses through new trading contracts
  • Providing training and support to those producers to enable them to meet the quality standards and reliability criteria that retail contracts require
  • Facilitating trading links between the producers and the new market outlets in both urban and rural areas
  • Supporting purchasing, distribution and in-store promotion of sustainably produced local food through the convenience store network
  • Evaluating the results of the project to demonstrate both economic gain to the producers and the community, and environmental benefits in the wider region
  • Promoting the lessons learned from the project through a variety of mechanisms including a national conference, a web-site, grocery trade media and a multistakeholder advisory group.


The project worked towards the following targets (details of results can be seen in the final report - link above):

  • Provide support for 15 supplier businesses and increase their turnover
  • Increase the proportion of sustainably produced local food in 6 participating shops and one symbol group
  • Help provide support for producers and retailers motivated by sustainability issues in areas where there is currently little or no brokerage support
  • Increase local food in public sector catering
  • Help develop a commercially viable supply chain for good quality, ‘green’ local food.

During summer 2009 we undertook project evaluation to understand the impact of the project, benefits and difficulties faced. This informed the development of Sustain projects and the final report. We are very pleased that the evaluation showed that a large number of producers had benefited from participating in the project including new contacts and networking opportunities as well as new trading arrangements, with one producer estimating £20,000 of new business per annum as a direct result of being involved in the Eat Somerset project.

Click here to view Eat Somerset's guiding principles for developing sustainable local food systems

Funded by Rural Renaissance, with additional support from Envolve and the four councils in the West of England area. The first stage of the project (to June 2008) was funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, with additional support from Friends of the Earth.

Eat Somerset Project Funders 

Eat Somerset: From 2006 to 2009 Sustain co-ordinated a food chain project in south west England that worked to increase trading between producer groups in and around Somerset and independent food retailers in the county, and create new markets in Bristol and Bath.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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