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Sustain / Local Action on Food

A Growing Trade: Trading community grown food in our towns and cities

A Growing Trade report now available

This Local Action on Food report highlights the commercial opportunities for community grown produce and showcases initiatives that are doing it already. 

Find out more and download the report

Ida Fabrizio with chillies at Growing Communities, HackneyMore and more community-led food growing projects are being set up in urban areas. It makes sense to bring food production closer to where we eat it, and to enjoy the pleasure of growing good, healthy food within our communities.

Many such food growing projects are also increasingly interested in selling their own produce, within their community or commercially.  This may be to help generate income to keep the projects running and pay for seeds and tools, or it may be to help provide training opportunities for people interested in food production. On a more ambitious scale, selling produce can also help to underpin trading activities in sustainable food and other local services, and provide good jobs in the community.

At Local Action on Food, we decided to take a look at how food growing project can start to trade in the food they grow. Our report highlights the commercial opportunities for community grown produce and showcases initiatives that are doing it already.  We found that there are lots of new and creative opportunities to make money from selling urban grown produce. Growing food for trading in urban areas can also have distinct advantages.

Growing Communities salad packingWe found examples of groups selling fresh produce to restaurants that want to offer something different on their menu and support the community in which they do business. We talked to caterers and small shops keen to support food growing activities and pay a fair price directly to somebody in their community that is producing food for them. We also looked at fantastic examples of more ambitious community food growing projects that also support local and regional farmers, with good jobs in community-led urban food growing subsidised from the profits from other forms of community trading.

What is challenging but also interesting are the details of how people make this work: forging lings between food businesses and community projects selling food; working out logistics for distribution; getting on top of the finances so that profit can be used to support people growing the food and generate income to make the project more self reliant. These are the nuts and bolts of making community food growing a permanent part of the urban landscape. Find out more on the following pages:

This work is being undertaken as part of the Food Supply and Distribution project, which is investigating community-led enterprise approaches to building more robust and sustainable food systems. The project is run by Sustain as part of the Big Lottery funded Making Local Food Work programme.



Local Action on Food: The Local Action on Food network was run as part of the Big Lottery funded Making Local Food Work programme, 2007 to 2012. It has now closed.

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