Bristol Good Conference 2014 report
On 20 October, the Bristol Food Policy Council, in partnership with Bristol City Council, Bristol Food Network, and @Bristol welcomed over 100 delegates to its 5th annual Good Food Conference. The Conference was kicked off by Bristol’s Lord Mayor and Alison Comley, Bristol City Council Service Director for Neighbourhoods.
This year the theme was Bristol Good Food and the Low Carbon Challenge: Learning from Around Europe, and to assist in delivering that message the FPC had invited speakers from near and far, including:
François Jégou, Lead Expert for the URBACT project Sustainable Food in Urban Communities (http://urbact.eu/en/projects/low-carbon-urbanenvironments/sustainable-food-inurban-communities/homepage/), of which Bristol is one of 10 partner cities, who introduced the project and detailed some of the partner city initiatives illustrating its low carbon focus.
Kevin Morgan, Chair of the Bristol Food Policy Council and Professor of Governance and Development at Cardiff University, gave the keynote address of the conference entitled: Urban Food Pioneers: what other cities are doing, which summed up relevant case studies from Toronto and Vancouver in Canada and Malmö in Sweden around what these cities are doing in regard to urban food policy, including what policies they are implementing to lower their carbon footprint.
Vicki Hird, Friends of the Earth Senior Campaigner, Land Use, Food and Water Security Programme, and Policy Director at Sustain, formed part of the morning’s expert panel and explained to us why Bristol’s food system, while possessing many advantages, is still at present vulnerable, unsustainable/polluting, and ultimately unfair, and talked about some ways that we can respond to these issues.
Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association, talked to the delegates about the challenges involved in trying to farm sustainably in a market dominated by large-scale industrial players. She noted that one of the things that could help level the playing field for smaller-scale producers is to establish an effective local and regional supply hub that brings food from the surrounding region into the city.
Along with the previous speakers François Jégou and Kevin Morgan, Vick and Helen set 4 challenges for the city of Bristol around lowering the city’s greenhouse gas emissions from its food system:
Purchase Power: For Bristol to deploy its Power of Purchase in truly innovative ways to secure public health, social justice and low carbon goals.
Flexitarian City: The one thing Bristol could do is announce an ambition to be the first Flexitarian City – a city which is doing what it can to promote great eating and fab food culture whilst reducing the harmful impact particularly of meat consumption.
Supply Hub: Bristol needs an effective local and regional supply hub that brings food from the hinterland into the city.
Food Culture: Food is booming in Bristol with hundreds of inspiring projects and initiatives. Beyond linking them into Bristol Good Food plan framework and more detailed action plans, Bristol should (re)root them into our own local food culture. To collectively regenerate this food culture is the only way to cement actions into something stronger and more resistant.
Liz Zeidler, Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, then facilitated a lively interactive session that asked everyone to find a table around one of these four themes, and dig deeper into what actions could help deliver some practical responses. The Conference also heard from 5 people from Bristol who had participated in the URBACT project ‘transnational events’ that took place in several of the partner cities and reported back in 3-minute speed presentations on the projects and ideas that they found most inspiring.
The delicious ‘low-carbon lunch’ was provided by Adrian Kirikmaa and catering students from the City of Bristol College in partnership with @Bristol’s Soil Association Food for Life Gold award-winning catering team and sponsored by Total Produce and Joe’s Bakery.
In the afternoon participants were able to learn more about several Bristol Green Capital Food Action Group proposed collaborative projects that will be seeking funding from Bristol 2015 Company’s 3 funding strands, including the Neighbourhood Partnership strand, the Small Grants strand administered by the Quartet Foundation, and the Strategic Grants strand, along with some other exciting food activity and projects that were looking for partnership opportunities within Bristol’s growing food community.
To quote from Bristol’s Assistant Mayor for Communities Gus Hoyt: “The Bristol Good Food Conference is the next exciting step towards securing a healthy sustainable food system and local economy here in Bristol. In 2015 we hope to share our best practice around food in an urban environment with all European cities and in turn will learn from them. There has been a great deal of work over the past few years, both here in Bristol and across Europe. We have been working laterally with many EU partner cities brought together to work collaboratively through the food themed URBACT programme.”
Bristol Food Policy Council Meeting 8th October 2014
The latest meeting of the Bristol Food Policy Council on 8 October was the first meeting for new members Jerry Naish of Yeo Valley Organics, Nina Skubala, Vice-Chair of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and Chris Head, representing the West of England Rural Network subgroup of the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Agenda topics included updates from:
Kathy Derrick, Bristol City Council Sustainable City & Climate Change Service Manager, advised the group that the bid to Bloomberg’s Mayor Challenge (http://mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org/index.cfm?objectid=8D2508E0-3E5E-11E4-AF250050569A3ED0) was not successful. She will follow up with the feedback from the judges when that is available.
Angela Raffle, Consultant in Public Health, provided a summary paper of the Food and Development Planning Review (http://bristolfoodpolicycouncil.org/food-and-planning-developmentalreview-a-report-based-on-interviewswith-bristol-city-council-staff-abouttheir-work-on-food/) and advised that a presentation was given at the Bristol City Council Health and Wellbeing Board. Kathy and Angela are writing a paper to go to Bristol City Council’s Senior Leadership team in relation to future food policy.
Claire Lowman, Public Health Service Lead, with input from Sustainable Food Cities Director Tom Andrews, is advancing Bristol’s plan to apply for a Silver level Sustainable Food Cities award (http://sustainablefoodcities.org/Portals/4/Documents/SFC%20Award%20FINAL%20version%20.pdf). Awards will be presented at the 2015 Sustainable Food Cities conference.
Joy Carey reported that the BristolFood Network is supporting the groupsapplying for Bristol 2015 funding (www.bristol2015.co.uk/get-involved/applygrant-funding/) with projects and outcomes being mapped back to the objectives in the Good Food Plan.
Chris Head explained that the Local Enterprise Partnership is now moving to a delivery phase and has EU funding opportunities. The EU LEADER (http://enrd.ec.europa.eu/enrd-static/leader/en/leader_en.html) funding available will be matched with UK money from DEFRA and the Lottery, with the purpose of stimulating growth and jobs. The West of England LEP has applied for £1.7m, with the decision coming in November and starting in April. Even though Bristol as a city is not eligible for any of these grants, some of the money could support food projects that have links with the surrounding Greater Bristol region. Since the LEP does not yet include a specific food sector group, it was proposed that the food agenda would benefit from a food ‘champion’ at the LEP table.
The next meeting will be 7 January 2015.