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Sustain / Eat Somerset / Eat Somerset

Eat Somerset 2008 updates

Winter 2008/9

Meet the Buyers event for the public sector
Project officer Alison Belshaw organised a successful and well-attended "meet the buyers" event for the public sector in October. This saw 16 local food producers having one-to-one appointments with buyers and 14 public sector organisations were represented. A report on the event can be seen on the Case Studies page.

On 22 January 2009 two workshops will be held, one on Marketing, the other on Sustainable Packaging. A further "meet the buyers" event will be held on 11 February for the retail and catering sectors.

Support for trading activities
Work with six shops has continued and resulted in new trading arrangement. More detailed work is taking place with the Radstock Co-operative Society (Radco) with meetings with producers to be held on 19 and 27 January.

Looking to the future
A successful first stage application was made to the Local Food Fund for a fruit and vegetable growing project in the West of England working with the four local authorities in this area. The aim would be to grow more fruit and vegetables in the area for direct supply to schools and other public sector contracts. Further details of the Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Production in the Southwest project can be viewed on a separate page.


Autumn 2008

Final report for this stage
A final report of the first phase of the Eat Somerset project is available on the Sustain website. The report will help to inform future developments. The second phase of the project has been funded by the Rural Renaissance initiative and several councils in the southwest area.

Meet the Buyers events
The following 'meet the buyers' events have been held or are coming up:

  • For public sector caterers and procurement staff, on 9 October
  • For wholesalers, on 6 November
  • For local retailers, in February.

There will also be a workshop on marketing and sustainable packaging in January. There is a 'meet the buyers' case study on the website.

Support for trading activities
Alison is now working with six shops to help them buy more local produce. This includes an initial interview at each shop, followed by recommendations of producers for the items the shop would like to buy locally.

Funding news
Alison submitted a first stage application to the Local Food Fund for a fruit and vegetable growing project in the West of England. We have just learned that it has reached the second stage.

Summer 2008

Funding news
Our bid to the Rural Renaissance fund has been successful. We are delighted to report that Eat Somerset can now build on its successes so far and continue with project activities until at least March 2009. The 50 per cent match funding has been provided by Sustain, and by Councils from Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. Work will focus on the West of England; in particular developing markets in Bristol and Bath.

Four products are now stocked in Booker's Taunton store  and a local fudge supplier was introduced in June. Two marketing banners have been produced to enhance publicity and Eat Somerset project officer Alison Belshaw hopes to replicate this work with other wholesalers soon.

Two new case studies are on the website, covering the work with local convenience stores and wholesalers. The producers' directory is now available in a searchable format at Another directory is being developed listing caterers, retailers and wholesalers interested in purchasing local produce.

Final report
The final report for the first stage of the project is being finalised, and will be published shortly. We are also treating the reporting process as a period of review, to learn from our work so far, and to make plans for the next phase of the project.

Spring 2008

Eat Somerset project officer Alison Belshaw continues to run a number of very successful events. A sustainable packaging workshop was held on 16 January with about 20 producers attending and speakers from the Eden Project and Saffron Kitchen.

Distribution workshop
A distribution workshop was held on 13 March with local food producers and distributors to map distribution routes to try to identify ways of combining deliveries, and notes of the meeting are available on the website. On 3 April a Meet the Buyers event was held in Bristol. Twenty-four local food producers were represented and 50 buyers attended from retail, catering and the public sector.

Other activities
Following introductory meetings between Booker and five local food producers in January, Booker in Taunton are due to stock four lines starting in April.

A series of case studies are being written, and the first, about local shops, can be seen on the website. Although the funding for this phase of the project will end, as scheduled, in summer, Alison has already submitted funding bids.

Real Steps project
Activities by the New Economics Foundation (nef) on the Real Steps Towards Sustainable Food project this quarter that have involved Sustain included:

  • A lively discussion forum chaired by Tom Macmillan of the Food Ethics Council, bringing together local food project practitioners to debate five propositions put forward by nef as a new agenda for local and sustainable food.
  • A review meeting with working party organisations.

A 'propositions paper' is currently being reviewed by nef, and will be presented again at a meeting involving local food practitioners and several major 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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