Archived site section

Please note that the content on this page has been archived and is not actively reviewed at present.

2011 updates on food co-ops and buying groups

Winter 2011

The team of regional food co-ops advisors, with colleagues at the Soil Association that run the buying groups aspects of this work, have given support, advice, training and marketing materials to more than 30 groups this quarter across all of the English regions. They have also helped to arrange a wide variety of events such as:

  • An Open Day at the True Food Co-op in Reading (which won Best Retail Initiative in the Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards in November)
  • Study visits to the long-established workers’ co-operatives Essential Trading and Suma
  • A meeting of the Goodwin Development Trust in Hull.

A particularly productive relationship is with the student sustainability organisation People & Planet, who we have been working with over the past two years. This quarter, we helped organise a workshop and networking event for students at the People & Planet conference in Oxford (also contributed to by Ethical Eats), and this has resulted in requests for Food Co-ops Toolkits and starter packs to set up more student food co-ops.

We have also completed and published two food co-op films highlighting the excellent work of Real Food Exeter, a community-financed shop, and Windmill Community Allotment Project.

To help encourage policies and government advice supportive to co-operative food buying, we have contributed to the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Buy It Together guide, which makes extensive reference to the Food Co-ops Toolkit.


Autumn 2011

Our food co-ops advisers have continued to provide advice, support and materials to new and existing food co-ops, including several that have been started by Transition Town initiatives and others supported by Primary Care Trusts. Between July and September, the advisers have also organised several regional events including: a food co-ops event in Southampton, food co-op and bread making workshop in Ipswich and a fruit and veg bag scheme event in Kent.
 
All of our materials that are available to food co-ops, i.e. the Food Co-ops Toolkits, banners, leaflets and bags, have been reprinted in the last quarter and we have continued to send them out to groups across the country. We have started to produce food co-op films that will be used to promote food co-ops to a wider audience. So far we have filmed Windmill Community Allotment Project in Margate and the Real Food Store in Exeter.

We have attended meetings at the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and at WasteWatch to discuss work to promote the concept of collaborative purchasing of food and other products. BIS may develop a toolkit on this topic which will link to our Food Co-ops Toolkit.
 
We met the student environmental organisation People & Planet and the Slow Food on Campus initiative to discuss more joint work to promote student food co-ops. We have already run training for around 10 universities at People & Planet in Oxford and will also be running a joint workshop at the Shared Planet event in November and hosting a student food co-ops networking event. All new student food co-ops will also be given a pack with project materials.
 
City University has continued to visit food co-ops around the country to carry out in-depth evaluation and will be presenting an interim report soon.
 


Summer 2011

One of the main activities of our food co-ops advisers has been to organise more regional events for new and existing food co-ops. This has included two whole-day events in the South East in Brighton and Oxford, which included workshops on governance from Co-operativesUK and on business planning and marketing from Enterprise Support consultants at the Plunkett Foundation. We have continued to organise our Getting Started workshops for food co-ops and buying groups in partnership with the Soil Association, and also with local Transition Town groups. We also held two events in East Anglia focussing on Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills for food co-ops, which were facilitated by Seeds for Change.

Several new food co-ops have started trading in the last quarter, and there have been many enquiries from potential new food co-ops. As part of our support for new food co-ops we are helping to cover the cost of marketing and promotional schemes to help co-ops recruit more customers.
 
City University staff have now visited several food co-ops as part of the evaluation and have interviewed staff, volunteers and customers. We have offered food co-ops that are part of the evaluation £250 towards the cost of equipment or marketing as an incentive and in recognition of the amount of staff time taken up by involvement in the evaluation.

 


Spring 2011

Food Co-ops and Buying Groups
Thanks to funding from the Daewoo and Sasaka Foundations, staff from the food co-ops project visited Teikei groups, consumer co-ops and organic farmers in Japan in February. A report and selection of case studies will soon be available on the website.

Two food co-ops in each English region that represent a range of different models have been selected to take part in the evaluation of this project. The Centre for Food Policy at City University London has started to contact them to arrange visits.

Sustain regional food co-ops advisors have continued to provide advice and support to new and existing food co-ops and buying groups. These include the Growing Places Enterprise in Ipswich; Poppy’s Pantry in Suffolk and Wakelyns Potato Club in Suffolk.
Our food co-op advisers have also continued to organise regional events and to give talks and workshops at other group’s events.
The past few months have been a busy time for media work. The food co-ops project and website received excellent media coverage, which led to increasing hits on the website and the Food Co-ops Finder online map.

Local Action on Food
The Local Action on Food website had a facelift this quarter with new sections profiling the work of members, and other sustainable food work going on across the country. The monthly e-newsletter Rhubarb-e is still being sent out to members and Rhubarb the quarterly printed newsletter is now being stocked by a couple of venues across the country. The network has been providing support for urban food growers that are looking to start trading produce and becoming more economically viable. Work so far has revolved around contacting an existing network of food growing projects that developed from the Getting Down to Business conference and speaking to a wide range of projects about their needs. Plans are underway to run a series of training events in 2011 with the enterprise support strand of MLFW to give basic business skills to people involved in urban community food growing initiatives and to help projects become community enterprises.

Local Action on Food continues to produce the quarterly Rhubarb magazine, and the monthly Rhubarb-e round-up newsletter for network members. The topic for the next edition is ‘The Big Society’ and what it means for the local and sustainable food sector.

In February, we met with representatives of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, which organises the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund, to develop closer links with their network. We have also been working with Garden Organic, Vegware, and Essential Trading to set up attractive discount deals for Local Action on Food network members. We are planning our next Local Action on Food events and are looking to collaborate on events that are currently being run by Sustain’s regional food co-ops advisors.

On 17 March we organised ‘Growing your own Business’, an event aiming to support more community food growing projects to trade their own produce. The day was organised in partnership with the Enterprise Support strand of the Making Local Food Work programme. The day comprised a series of workshops looking at issues from business planning to the logistics of trading in community-grown food. It was successful in introducing the enterprise approach to a new audience and helping projects to think about the potential for them to operate on this scale.

In parallel to the ‘Growing your own business’ event, we have been undertaking research into the viability of food growing projects making more money from trading their food. A publication is now in preparation, called A Growing Trade, for food growing projects that are interested in selling their produce. We have already published case studies and information on the Local Action on Food website and will develop this further over the coming weeks. 
 


Winter 2010 / Spring 2011

Food Co-ops and Buying Groups
In October 2010 Sustain ran a national event in Leamington Spa in partnership with the Soil Association for food co-ops, buying groups, and Community Supported Agriculture groups. It was attended by about 100 delegates from all over the country. There were presentations and workshops from existing food co-ops, alongside workshops on marketing and business planning, and on funding and linking with local suppliers.
 
With Unicorn Grocery we have launched the new Grow a Grocery guide to setting up wholefood co-operatives which can be downloaded from www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk/grow-a-grocery.php.

Our food co-ops programme has been continuing to work with student food co-ops around the country. In November we ran an open space session on ‘how to set up a food co-op in a university’ at the ‘Shared Planet’ event in Birmingham. We are also organising a study visit to Green Action Food Co-op at Leeds University.

Local Action on Food
The Local Action on Food website had a facelift this quarter with new sections profiling the work of members, and other sustainable food work going on across the country. The monthly e-newsletter Rhubarb-e is still being sent out to members and Rhubarb the quarterly printed newsletter is now being stocked by a couple of venues across the country. The network has been providing support for urban food growers that are looking to start trading produce and becoming more economically viable. Work so far has revolved around contacting an existing network of food growing projects that developed from the Getting Down to Business conference and speaking to a wide range of projects about their needs. Plans are underway to run a series of training events in 2011 with the enterprise support strand of MLFW to give basic business skills to people involved in urban community food growing initiatives and to help projects become community enterprises.


email list

SHARE

Sustain
The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

0203 5596 777
sustain@sustainweb.org
RSS

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.

© Sustain 2018
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Site map
Data privacy & cookies

Sustain