May 2014 update

The Bristol Food Policy Council met on 9 April 2014. Several items for discussion were brought forward, including:

Membership of the Food Policy Council

Christine Marshall of Southwest Food and Drink is now stepping down. The Food Policy Council would like to thank Christine for her long service to the group and for her valuable input into its strategic thinking and activities.

Tor Crockatt, who is on maternity leave, has been replaced by Jerry Naish of Yeo Valley. The FPC wishes to thank Tor for her participation and also to congratulate her on the birth of her child.

Joy Carey, a local food systems consultant with F3 and the author of Who Feed Bristol, has now become an ‘official’ member of the Food Policy Council after having served for the last several years as a strategic consultant and spokesperson. Welcome to Joy!

Kathy Derrick, Bristol City Council Environment Team Manager has now replaced Steve Marriott as the Bristol City Council support contact for the Food Policy Council. Steve is taking early retirement from the Council and will be much missed! The Food Policy Council wishes to thank Steve for his tireless work and is looking forward to continuing to work with him in the future.

Claire Lowman, Health Improvement Specialist, will also provide support from Public Health.

Terms of reference, membership, and relationships for the Food Policy Council

A main item of discussion was the need to revisit the terms of reference, membership, and relationships for the Food Policy Council. This is necessary because of the ever changing and growing activity within the City and the West of England in relation to improving our food system, and the need to link all this together to best effect. It is therefore essential that the FPC adapts to fill the niche where it can have the best influence.

Some key points from the discussion were:

  • The FPC has developed a strong and valuable identity. It has provided legitimacy to numerous activities carried out by many different agencies.
  • Because of events, support, and networking initiated and hosted by the FPC it has been possible to create the Food Connections Festival this May involving 165 events, and to attract the BBC Food and Farming awards to Bristol.
  • We agreed that the hard task of looking at different models and devising the best operating model for the FPC for the next one to two years needs to be delegated to a ‘task and finish group’. This group will be convened by Kathy Derrick and will report back before the next meeting on 9 July.

Resource Capacity within Bristol City Council for supporting the Food Policy Council

Alex Minshull, Sustainable City and Climate Change Manager at Bristol City Council, outlined that there are at present five main tasks for Bristol City Council around sustainable food activity, namely;

1. Coordinating our role in the URBACT programme and ensuring that knowledge transfer happens widely as a result of this
2. Supporting the action plan of the Green Capital Food Action Group
3. Supporting the work programme of the Food Policy Council
4. Providing administrative support to the Food Policy Council
5. Getting Bristol City Council’s ‘house in order’ in relation to healthy and sustainable food procurement and promotion

The Food Policy Council thanks the Bristol City Council for their continuing support of the FPC and sustainable food work in Bristol during these difficult times.

Programme Planning for the Food Policy Council

Bloomberg/Foodtures project

Deborah Kinghorn of the Mayor’s Office explained that Bristol has made a submission to the ‘Mayors Challenge’ run by New York’s former Mayor Bloomberg, seeking the best idea for improving a City. A ‘high level’ proposal was submitted in January. The shortlist of 20 cities (out of 155 that applied) will be announced any day now.

These 20 cities then have the opportunity to attend a two day ‘ideas camp’ to help develop the proposal into a workable business model, ready for a detailed submission in July. One winner will be selected and will receive £5m funding. Four runners up will each receive £1m. It was confirmed on 23 April that this project has made the shortlist!

The Bristol idea is for a ‘Learn, Grow, Eat – Food Revolution’ to be based in Knowle. It comprises a Good Food Market, food growing in local schools, and community involvement. The proposal was selected from a range of ideas submitted through the web-based ‘George’s Ideas Lab’. The lead author for the proposal is Mark Goodway of the Matthew Tree Project.

Green Capital Food Action Group

Joy Carey reported on the work of the newly formed food themed action group for the Green Capital Partnership. This group has attracted some new and energetic activists and is building new links. The group is identifying priorities for 2015 Green Capital year which include Schools, Food Growing, Citywide coordination and communication activities, Transforming food culture, and Communicating low-carbon food messages. There are cross-cutting themed groups for communications, and for evaluation/research. We will need to incorporate the food work into those groups too. These priorities are in the process of being refined and will be submitted to the Green Capital Partnership for possible funding consideration.

Food and Film night with George Ferguson 24 March

The Food Policy Council, along with the Mayor’s Office organized a film showing of Joy Carey’s and Sprout Films new movie on the local food movement in the UK, Local Food Roots, on 24 March. This was another very lively and successful event, attracting some new players and fostering some new connections, new commitments and new conversations.

Over 40 people from various parts of the food sector came and ate tasty treats from the Southville Primary Tuck Shop crew, Mark’s Bread, and SusWot’s lovely handpressed organic apple juice and heard from entrepreneurial players in Bristol’s growing and innovative sustainable food sector such as the Community Farm, Real Economy, Mark’s Bread, and the Food Connections Festival.

If you wish to organise a showing of the film, please visit:

Gus Hoyt’s Diary

Our latest EU funded URBACT visit took us and our Partner cities to Messina in Sicily where the focus was on the theme of Growing. This was a fascinating trip as it was the first in Southern Europe and enabled us to experience the more extreme economic challenges they face.

Following a huge earthquake in 1908 and allied bombing campaigns in 1943, little of the original city still remains. What was once a great Greek, Roman, Arab and Norman city is now mostly prefabs dotted with wonderful examples of crumbling grandeur.

The overarching theme was to consider innovative growing enterprises that were economically sustainable with Francois, our project’s Lead Expert, telling us we needed to think like big business.

We toured a famous 16th century Benedictine hilltop Monastery that now houses Cuppari Agricultural High School where the students prepare, test, bottle and label wine. Were they allowed to taste it? we joked – imagining a set-up like this in the UK. ‘No, no’ replied the teachers laughing, ‘That is our job!’ The profits from the vineyard are then pumped directly into the school, enabling it to thrive. Our Norwegian partners observed that it might not pass their child labour rules…

The main hall is used as a tourist centre for Sicilian wine and the exemplary Slow Food movement. This commercial operation was jointly focussed on exporting the Slow Food culture and their wine. The profits were a further bonus to the school.

The proprietor of the ‘eco-hotel’ where we stayed had recently bought an overgrown citrus, wine and olive farm on a hillside within the city. Derelict since the 1940s, he turned this into a social enterprise Villare, and with true grit cleared the terraces, with further work planned and underway to regenerate the entire area including the traditional olive and wine pressing buildings. Outlets for the produce so far include the eco hotel itself where guests are encouraged to press their own fruit juice with the help of an electric orange press. Vegetable growing adds to the employment options for those unable to find work elsewhere in town. The greater vision is to create an agro-tourism destination with ‘eco-pods’ for accommodation.

Sicily’s history of invaders and traders has meant that what is now seen as traditional Sicilian food actually originates from across the whole globe from the Mediterranean to America; from olives and lemons to cocoa and tomatoes. This, coupled with rich volcanic soil means it is a utopia for growing. Unfortunately, like elsewhere, slick advertising of ‘cheap’ and convenient food means young people are at risk of losing touch with their heritage. This erosion is at an early stage and the strong determination of those we met make me confident that they will maintain their internationally recognised status as a nation with a traditionally rich food culture.

It was a very different trip with such a heritage of food culture to understand and enjoy that we were constantly behind schedule. This did mean that we didn’t accomplish all we had hoped to but then perhaps I am betraying some of my Germanic roots…