2008 Making Local Food Work updates
Local Action on Food
The network held its first themed seminar on food and mental health, following the second working party for this new network. The network is planning an official launch in March 2009 with the launch of the new magazine for this network – Rhubarb.
Ethical shopping conference
In December, Sustain's policy director Kath Dalmeny presented at the Cooperatives UK annual conference on ethical shopping. Her presentation focused on food security - reflecting on whether we should put our trust in governments, local authorities or communities to achieve food system resilience. A report of the conference can be viewed at: http://www.cooperatives-uk.coop/live/cme2773.htm.
Funding for local food projects
In December, Kath also met with the Mayor's food advisor Rosie Boycott and six representatives of Deutsche Bank, to discuss how the bank and its foundation might support ethical and sustainable food enterprises, and local food growing projects.
Local food website development
Website development continues, with Sustain website developer Gavin Dupee working to integrate projects such as the Real Bread Campaign, Making Local Food Work, the new Local Action on Food network, and the Food Co-ops project, into one online searchable databse, building on London Food Link’s Local Food Finder. The new system will also allow easier access to local information for food businesses for buyers and members of the public, and graphical representations such as maps.
We have also engaged in several portfolio-wide activities to develop the website, communications, values, evaluation and diversity policy of the consortium.
Sustain project officer Suzanne Natelson has begun to research policy options to support the work of local food practitioners and communities. Over the coming months she will undertake desk research and consult with a wide range of people and organisations. The first policy seminar will take place in the autumn.
Local food events
Staff have attended various events including the Natural Products Show and Real Food Festival to promote the Making Local Food Work programme and to liaise with potential suppliers. Other meetings have involved London Food Link representation at the London Festival of Architecture Conference, Making Local Food Work Diversity Day and the Newham Food Access Partnership AGM.
We also organised a networking meeting and training day for all local partners involved in Making Local Food Work (MLFW) and many also attended evaluation workshops run by the New Economics Foundation.
Two strands of work
There are two main ‘strands’ to Sustain’s involvement in the Making Local Food Work programme, which are reported on separately in the menu on the left – Food Supply and Distribution (coordinated by Clare Horrell: firstname.lastname@example.org); and Food Co-ops and Buying Groups (coordinated by Maresa Bossano: email@example.com). We are also working collaboratively with the Soil Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) on two further strands – community supported agriculture (CSA) and mapping local food webs, respectively. The Soil Association has recently appointed Dan Keech (formerly a member of staff with Sustain working on London Food Link and sustainable food systems) for its CSA programme.
Establishing the programme
Over the past few months, we have been putting a great deal of time and effort into establishing the Making Local Food Work programme and the two major strands that are being co-ordinated by Sustain. The portfolio aims to use community and social enterprise approaches “to reconnect people and land through local food increasing access to fresh, healthy, local food with clear, traceable origins”. At a national level, the £10 million portfolio is being managed by the Plunkett Foundation. Sustain is mirroring this process at a smaller scale, coordinating the work of a further nine organisations (mainly members of the former Food Links UK, and members of London Food Link) developing a range of ‘delivery partner’ projects at local level, working to build sustainable local food systems and share good practice.
Getting the systems in place
Three project officers – Clare Horrell, Maresa Bossano and Suzanne Natelson have navigated admirably the considerable complexities of Lottery reporting systems, targets and workplans, budgets, and delivery partner needs and expectations. In March, staff attended the first meeting of project officers from across the portfolio, held in Oxford and established reporting mechanisms. Sustain policy director Kath Dalmeny sits on the Making Local Food Work portfolio board. A portfolio ‘values’ day is planned for May, to help explore common ground between the organisations across the whole portfolio and the key messages and policy activities that the portfolio will promote.