July 2013 update

The Bristol Food Policy Council (FPC) met on 3 July. The theme of the meeting was to review key project developments and to plan for the coming year. These covered: our EU URBACT funded ‘Sustainable Food in urban Communities’ project that supports the FPC, Bristol Fair Trade City, Green Shoots (a new project led by Probation Service), food poverty (see the the release of the Food Poverty report here), Sustainable Food Cities Network, food waste, feedback from the communications group, food conference and ambitions for 2015. A packed agenda. Notes and presentations from the meeting are available here.

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • EU URBACT ‘Sustainable Food’ project this year has included 2 visits to share and explore good practice in delivering and enjoying sustainable food. Highlights included the Gothenburg approach to reducing embedded carbon emissions in food to help the city achieve its carbon reduction targets and local food delivery systems in Amersfoort. More information on these schemes can be found in the project newsletter: http://goo.gl/n2cE4u
  • Green Shoots presents an example of social innovation in the city. Partners include the Probation Service, Bristol City Council, Avon Wildlife Trust, and the social enterprise REACH who have extensive experience in working with offenders. The project intention is to reduce re-offending by providing quality placements in local food growing projects to engage and re-skill ex-offenders, funded by EU and national sources. If the project generates a profit by demonstrating effective rehabilitation this will be used to further support local projects.
  • Steve Marriot presented feedback from a meeting to explore reducing food waste. This meeting was held in May, bringing together some of the key stakeholders in the city to explore how food waste can be effectively dealt with. The wide range of good practice in the city was acknowledged before moving on to identifying gaps in provision. The meeting resulted in a set of messages for key stakeholders and a commitment to follow up with a set of quick wins to aim for. Notes from the meeting are available on the FPC website.
  • The main agenda item was about completing the development of a food plan for the city, defining further work and setting a timescale for its production. Key proposed events in the development of this are likely to be a food gathering in November and a possible conference in May next year. This latter event would coincide with the proposal by the BBC for a fortnight of activities in Bristol based on their annual Food and Farming celebration.

Kevin Morgan’s diary
Being able to respond effectively and comprehensively to proposed national regulation changes is one of the real benefits of bringing together concerns and issues of the wide variety of food interests in the city. An example of this was the National Curriculum Review consulted on earlier this year. This was an opportunity for the city to come together and make recommendations concerning the role of food in schools, both in the curriculum content and in terms of providing food through school meals.

The Food Policy Council responded to this and joined in with national organisations such as the Soil Association and Sustain to lobby for the reinstatement of cooking skills as a core curriculum element. The result of this has been the announcement of the School Food Plan.

This is a national plan of action to reintroduce cooking skills in school and to match this with improvements in the school meals provision. The plan will be promoted to Headteachers to implement in their schools. Details can be found on www.schoolfoodplan.com/plan/

Of course the hard work now will be to ensure that Bristol Schools commit wholeheartedly to the plan and that now needs help of the food community in the city to ensure this is followed through. I would welcome your thoughts on this and it would be good to see a discussion on how this could best achieved on the Bristol Food Policy Council facebook page.

Karim Farag’s diary
I am a lecturer in Food Production and Technology and the Programme Manager for Food Production and Supply Management at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, and I also represent the food education sector on the FPC.

News about the new MSc in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security
The programme has been running for the first time since 2012, with students applying from all over the world. The students are currently working on their research projects and are expected to complete their dissertations.

Synopsis on the degree
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security MSc combines the principles of sustainable development with an examination of the various systems of food production in the context of providing a secure supply to meet the ever-changing requirements of a growing world population. It provides an opportunity for graduates or professionals in other disciplines to direct their careers towards agriculture and food supply. The principal aim of the course is to enable students to gain the specialised knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary to contribute effectively and ethically to strategic decision making, opinion forming and operational management for the sustainable development of agricultural and food supply systems in both developed and developing regions.

Recruitment for 2013/14 appears positive and the programme appears to be attracting more students year on year.

Tom Andrew’s diary
August 2013 saw the launch of the Sustainable Food Cities Network! After more than two years of planning and writing funding bids, the project saw the light of day on 6 August, supported by a brand new comprehensive website and generously funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The Network is a partnership of NGOs, led by the Soil Association, Sustain, and Food Matters, and is about using food to improve people’s health and wellbeing, creating new businesses and jobs and reduce our impact on the environment. Food is not only at the heart of some of today’s greatest challenges but is also a vital part of the solution.

The Sustainable Food Cities Network will create cities where every school, hospital, restaurant and workplace canteen serve only healthy and sustainable meals; where everyone has access to affordable fresh, seasonal, local and sustainably produced food no matter where they live; and where people of all ages and backgrounds have opportunities to learn about, grow and cook food. It is about creating cities where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where people’s right to eat healthy and sustainable food is embedded into every relevant policy and strategy.

It is also an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations using food as a vehicle for driving positive changes. The Network helps people and places to share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.

£1 million funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is to be invested in the UK’s first ‘Sustainable Food Cities’ programme, which will use healthy and sustainable food to address some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems including obesity, food poverty and climate change. In recognition of its pioneering work transforming food culture, Bristol has become a founding member of the UKwide Sustainable Food Cities Network.

The network will help cities learn from each other, picking up practical tips to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of their city as they work to be formally awarded Sustainable Food City status. By the end of the three year programme, more than 100 urban areas across the UK are expected to have joined the Sustainable Food City Network and be well on their way to becoming Sustainable Food Cities.

Check out the new Sustainable Food Cities website and follow us on Twitter.

Kristin Sponsler’s diary
The highlight of my last month was the honor of collaborating with community artist Jethro Brice to revamp and revive the amazing Wunderkammión and bring it back for another appearance at Bristol’s Harbour Festival for 2013.

In Jethro’s own words: “The celebrated Wunderkammión was back on the quays at this year’s Harbour Festival with a new exhibition about food sovereignty in early 21st century Bristol. Produced in collaboration with the Bristol Food Network, the exhibition featured documents and artefacts from the many grassroots projects that helped pioneer urban food sufficiency around in the early days of the movement. From growers like the The Severn Project and Edible Futures to educational projects such as Lawrence Weston Community Farm and the Hartcliffe Health and Action Group, or the remarkable Pedal Powered Transport company, small social enterprises and non-profits helped lay the ground for the sustainable urban food production we see today.”

Take a look at Jethro’s website for some lovely photos taken on the day (before the monsoon began!), and above for a tantalising sample ‘exhibit’…

Designer’s model for Solar ‘tree’ sculpture, mild steel, 2012: This item from the collections of the popular educator Dan Quiggin was constructed as a trial piece for a much larger public art installation at the Edible Futures nursery in Brislington. Designed by artist John Packer and built by community members in a series of workshops, the giant welded ‘tree’ structure supported an array of solar panel ‘leaves’ which powered a water pump irrigation system on the plot. Like many such projects Edible Futures sold high-end produce to restaurants in Bristol and focused on education and empowerment for food resilience and sovereignty.

Thanks so much to Jethro, Jane Stevenson, Mark Leach (hero of the hour!), and all of the wonderful local projects who donated artefacts for the “Bristol Future Museum of Good Food”!

  • Co-Exist Community Kitchen
  • The Bristol Pound
  • The Blue Finger Alliance/Feed Bristol
  • Lawrence Weston Community Farm
  • Pedal Power Transport/Severn Project
  • Pullins Bakery/Bristol Farmer’s Market
  • Hartcliffe Health and Environment Action Group
  • Edible Futures Nursery/Demand Energy Equality
  • Bristol City Council Sustainable City team

As an afterthought to the exploration and reflection of the Wunderkammión’s 3-dimensional wonders, we asked a few people to record their ‘favourite food memory or experience of 2013’ to be included with future exhibitions:

“Eating a cherry tossed from a neighbour’s tree by a bird! Free, ethically harvested!”

“Eating some good Meschel lettuce & Red Batavia from my garden in June…”

“Kurdish Picnic at Castle Park after the Dignity for Asylum Seekers March…”

If you missed the appearance of the Future Museum of Good Food at the Harbour Festival, fear not! It will go on show at the Create Centre in September, dates to be announced through Bristol’s Local Food e-update – if you aren’t currently subscribed, you can do so at www.bristolfoodnetwork.org

It will be hard to top such an engaging and collaborative experience, but here’s hoping that the URBACT Summer University will come close. I’ll report back in the November–December issue.

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