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Autumn / Winter 2009-10

Replication of local food projects
After a review of a range of local food projects, and the support we are already offering community food growing projects and community food enterprises, Sustain has decided to invest additional time in some models that we think show good prospects of at least some level of economic viability and replicability. We have:

  • Chosen new projects for the Making Local Food Work programme that demonstrate economic viability and replicability
  • Supported Unicorn Grocery workers’ cooperative in Manchester to start developing a toolkit to help other communities
  • Started to help Growing Communities, which is a community-led social enterprise trading in organic food and growing some of its own food in Hackney
  • Begun discussions with the socially responsible investment sector about how future viable and sustainable food enterprises could be funded
  • Commissioned evaluation work with the University of Glamorgan.
Community food projects and greenhouse gas emissions
We have also been involved with the national programme of MLFW to commission research into the greenhouse gas emissions associated with community food enterprises, and which types of activities would most help reduce emissions.

Regional activities
Sustain has continued to develop our eight regional food co-op advisors. Both the national co-ordinator and the regional advisers have also been giving presentations and running workshops at events around the country including the Co-operatives UK Food Co-ops Forum in Birmingham; Yorkshire & Humber Friends of the Earth Get Together event; and the Good Food For All event in Surrey.
Case studies of food distribution
The focus for the Food Distribution and Supply strand this year will be on helping our local partners to succeed, documenting what works, and communicating this through our networks. The four local food hub and food centre projects supported have continued to develop their work to provide local and sustainable food to local communities through a variety of means – food co-ops, mobile food stores, a community café, school catering, and membership box schemes.
Two new projects are now running. One involves a cooperative meat box scheme to be established in Colne Valley greenbelt, to provide a market for provenance-labelled meat grown in a way that conserves bio-diverse landscapes. The other is a food growing project that will grow fruit and vegetables for sale through the Unicorn Grocery cooperative in Manchester.
We are writing a report with an expert intern from a specialist spatial planning organisation on how national and local planners can help encourage a more sustainable food system. The report should be ready in May and we are organising a meeting with local authority planners to get feedback. Sustain has also been invited to the Examination in Public of the London Plan to talk about land for food in London.

Summer 2009

We have issued a tender for an IT project designed to explore the possibility of creating a stock management system usable by a variety of community food groups. A developer has already created a system which we believe meets many groups' needs. Six groups have been identified to trial the system for three months.

For the next stage of the programme, six possible new partners have been identified and work has started on assessing in more detail the suitability of including these projects. The new partner(s) will be appointed during September, 2009.

This quarter we have launched the new Food Co-ops Toolkit ( at community food events in Somerset and London. More outlets were also added to the Food Co-ops Finder map ( There are now over 60 different food co-ops listed.

We have run a number of training sessions and workshops including events at the Somerset Community Food conference, Community Feast event in London and Fresh Ideas Network event in Winchester. We continue to give advice to new and existing food co-ops over the phone and via email.

Spring 2009

Sustain and all of three of our Making Local Food project officers were involved with the programme's national conference in March, called Communities Taking Control. The conference was chaired by Sustain's policy director Kath Dalmeny. The workshop sessions featured a presentation by Sustain's Suzanne Natelson on local food policy, supported by Clare Devereux from Food Matters, who was instrumental in setting up the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.

Suzanne has also been exploring what Sustain and the Local Action on Food network could do to promote better local policy on food.

Making Local Food Work: Making Local Food Work aimed to reconnect people and land through local food by increasing access to fresh, healthy, local food with clear, traceable origins.

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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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