On Friday 29 November, 2013, the Bristol Food Policy Council, Bristol Food Network, Bristol Pound, Bristol Green Capital, and Eat Drink Bristol Fashion co-hosted over 120 representatives of Bristol’s thriving and growing ‘Good Food’ sector for a day of thinking, talking, and ‘putting flesh on the bones’ of the ‘Bristol Good Food Plan’ which was launched on the day. This group of highly committed attendees also brainstormed ideas for the Bristol ‘Food Connections’ events which will occur in and around the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards Fortnight from 1–11 May 2014.
The participants started the day off by viewing the What Does Good Food Mean for Bristol animation (now available to view on the Bristol Food Policy Council website), produced by local Bristol animator Ryan Biercewicz, and scripted by Angela Raffle, Public Health representative on the Bristol Food Policy Council and Joy Carey, independent food systems planner and author of the Who Feeds Bristol report. Clare McGinn of the BBC and Lorna Knapman of Love Food Festivals and co-curator of the Food Connections events introduced the plans for May 2014, and Angela then gave a brief but inspiring presentation around the just-released ‘Good Food Plan for Bristol’.
The Good Food Plan for Bristol lays out the following vision:
Imagine you lived in a truly sustainable food city, renowned for the vibrancy and diversity of its food culture, and for a food system which, from field to fork, is good for people, places and the planet. A city where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where everyone has access to fresh, seasonal, local, organic and fairly traded food that is tasty, healthy and affordable, no matter where they live.
Picture a city where every school, hospital or care home, every restaurant and work place canteen serves only delicious sustainable food; where good food enterprises multiply and thrive; where people of every age, and from every background, are developing skills in growing and cooking and are practically involved in creating a positive and inclusive food culture in their own communities.
Would you want to live in a city like this?
We believe that that this is an achievable reality for Bristol….
The plan is built around 8 system changes for the city-region, including:
- Transforming Bristol’s food culture
- Safeguarding the diversity of food retail
- Safeguarding land for food production
- Increasing urban food production
- Redistributing, recycling, and composting food waste
- Protecting key infrastructure for local food supplies
- Increasing the market opportunities for local and regional food suppliers
- Supporting community food enterprises.
The direction of the event was then handed off to the capable hands of Liz Zeidler, who crammed 3 inspiring and energising sessions of Open Space conversations around 2 overarching questions:
What events do I want to help make happen during the 2014 festival, and how do we get there?
What actions (projects/activities) do I want to help make happen to deliver the Bristol Food Policy Good Food Plan on the ground, and how do we get there?
Watch the lively film of the day produced by Becky Bell, to get an idea of the response to these questions, (also available on the Bristol Food Policy Council website). The morning finished off with a saved-from-landfill delicious lunch, provided by FareShare Southwest.
In the afternoon several intrepid delegates trooped off in separate directions on Bristol’s first ‘Good Food tours’! These included FareShare Southwest, the Matthew Tree Project, the Folk House and Square Food Foundation, River Cottage Canteen, Ruby and White Butchers and the Follow Your Food initiative, Better Food Company, the Severn Project, Yurt Lush, Southville Primary’s Tuck Shop project, and last but not least, Mark’s Bread and Café! The feedback from all of the tours was that the attendees found them educational, illuminating, and inspiring.
The outcomes of the day are in the process of being written up and distributed to all of the delegates. They will appear on the Bristol Food Policy website shortly.
Sid Sharma is a co-owner of the Thali Cafés.
I have been to many conferences where I spend more time looking at the clock on the wall, hoping that lunch time is nearing, but not for a moment did I feel this urge for a second at this event. The energy in the large civic space was palpable, and conversations compelling; the best example of an ‘open space’ style convention I have ever been to. I always hoped that this would be an actions-focused session and that it was. We have all had, as a movement, enough time to analyse, discuss and document; we know what needs to happen to make food far more resilient and citizens healthier and happier.
The time is now and all those people who attended the event last week, I am sure are ready to start the ‘Good Food’ revolution.
The event achieved all that we hoped for. I’ve seldom seen so many animated conversations, ideas, and resolute commitments fostered in one room and in one event. The ‘open space’ method meant that every delegate could do what was most important to them – whether that was finding others to make a plan with, or just soaking it all in and learning, or focusing diverse perspectives to solve a problem. The afternoon visits added that special dimension of meeting the people and seeing the projects that are already bringing real change. The delicious lunch was the best illustration of how wrongheaded it is to view healthy and sustainable food as something rather worthy that people won’t be attracted to.
Changing our food system for the better is a daunting task. The instinctive response to any possible action tends to be ‘oh but that won’t solve x, y or z’. So, what this event achieved was to set out the ‘big picture’ of what do we mean by really ‘good food’, what would a Good Food city look like, and what are the eight big system changes that we need to get momentum on. Then, once that framework is there, it frees people to see their small part of the action as an element in the bigger picture, and everyone gains new resolve from seeing that others are doing important things too. Arguments about what to do first then melt away because everyone can see that if each person is doing what they are good at and have influence over that is in fact the best course.
29 November Food Gathering Event reflections
What a day! I was stationed at reception for most of the day so not able to take part in the amazing Open Space conversations myself, but from hearing the buzz from the room and the feedback from participants as they rushed out the door to the tours or their next destination was “fantastic event” and “what a great way to spend a morning!”. I very much look forward to seeing what will transpire across the city from this amazing day of networking and conversations.
URBACT National Training Day Seminar Part 2 Report
On 18 November, I, along with Joy Carey, Dorothy Greaves, and Caitlyn Jones went to London for the URBACT National Training Day Seminar Part 2. For more information about URBACT, the 10-city partnership project Sustainable Food in Urban Communities that Bristol is part of, or the National Trainings and transnational events, visit http://urbact.eu/.
The main objectives for the two days were:
- Create a shared understanding of the power of participative action planning process. See more about this at: www.dailymotion.com/video/x16okx7_participatory-approach-tourban-policy-making-local-supportgoups-urbact-david-story_news
- Foster capacity to develop a participative action-planning process
- Share tools and methods to successfully co-produce a good Local Action Plan
- Generate ideas for the sustainability of the Local Action Plan
The Local Action Plan is defined as: a policy instrument and an integrated action
Some main elements that should be included:
a) City context and definition of the initial problem
b) Setting of focus and objectives
d) Funding scheme
e) Framework for delivery
f) Description of the process
g) Risk analysis
As part of this process, we were able to look at several examples of LAPS from previous projects to get an idea of the various formats, information included, etc.
We also used tools such as ‘force fields’ to help figure out all the factors that affect different aspects of our participative action planning, and ‘change agents’ to help determine how to achieve a good balance of personalities in our Local Support Group (the body of stakeholders that will help to write and deliver our Local Support Plan).
As far as how ‘sustainable’ the Local Action Plan should be, here are some general observations:
- Some key aspects of the ULSG and LAP that should be continuously checked: content, governance, integrated approaches, finance, planning and added value
- Important to start thinking about the future of the LAP, in particular about its implementation and sustainability
To encourage use of Financial Instruments (defined as any contract that gives rise to a financial asset of one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument of another entity OR A fund to provide equity, loan or guarantees), the EU Commission have provided for the next programme (from 2014–2020):
- Stable regulation framework
- Greater flexibility on setting up Fis – including re-use of existing funds
- Encouraging use in association with grants and
- Developing ‘off the shelf models’
More information about these options can be found in this booklet which can be downloaded at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224755/13-1049-development-and-delivery-european-and-investment-fund-strategies-guidance-for-leps.pdf
All in all, it was a valuable learning and networking experience for the whole Bristol ‘team’ who attended the Training.
The Bristol Food Policy Council, Bristol Good Food activities, and initiatives such as the Bristol Pound feature heavily in one of the latest URBACT Publications: http://urbact.eu/fileadmin/Projects/Sustainable_food_in_urban_communities/documents_media/SustainableFood-Thematic-Interim-Report-DELIVERING-Nov13.pdf.
The next URBACT transnational exchange (Urban Food Policy Mix) will happen in Brussels on 5 February, 2014: www.sustainable-everydayproject.net/urbactsustainable-food/2013/12/04/save-the-dates/