October 2013 update

The autumn meeting of the Bristol Food Policy Council was held on 2 October 2013 at the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens HQ, the GreenHouse, Bedminster.

The main focus of the meeting was the City Food Plan Framework. As part of the process towards developing a deliverable food action plan a November gathering of key food stakeholders is being organized. This gathering will also help identify and inform activities for the BBC fortnight of food in May that is scheduled to accompany the BBC 2014 Food & Farming awards. The Framework will be used as the basis for mapping during the November gathering, collating all ideas for the food fortnight and beyond, against the relevant key food system change and outcome.

If you or your organisation want to contribute to these activities please contact Rachel.Pinnock@bristol.gov.uk with details of your ideas and offers.

Other agenda items included an update of the URBACT programme, with feedback from recent visits:

The Summer School in Dublin in August which concentrated on core skills and tools useful to all URBACT funded projects, experiential workshops and key international speakers http://university2013.urbact.eu/

The Oslo transnational ‘food growing’ themed Partner meeting in September where participants shared case-studies from their cities, enjoyed site visits and discussed all aspects of urban food growing. A programme is being developed to disseminate learning from these meetings to a local Bristol audience but meanwhile see project blog:

http://urbact.eu/en/projects/low-carbon-urban-environments/sustainable-food-in-urbancommunities/our-project/ and facebook http://www.facebook.com/SustainableFoodInUrbanCommunities

Public Health Who Does What?
Dr Angela Raffle presented a briefing paper https://bristolfoodpolicycouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/PH-food-summary-16-oct-13.pdf that summarises who does what on food in Public Health and how the healthy food agenda is merging with that of sustainable food. Public Health work has been mapped to the food system bubbles above, supporting the Good Food agenda by embedding it in everyone’s work to bring lasting change.

Health and Well-Being Strategy – action plan development is underway and will be discussed at the winter FPC meeting in January.

News items
GOAD retail data has been studied in order to help FPC develop a retail strategy that supports Good Food principles. The license from Experion has now expired but as the angle is wider than food, then the Local Enterprise Partnership may be interested in helping drive forward the overall work on retail.

Fair Trade City see p.23 of Bristol’s Local Food Update November-December 2013.

Royal Agricultural University see Karim’s diary opposite.

Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan (Growth Strategy) Work is underway to embed sustainable food in this.

The Sustainable Food city Network is alive and picking up activity. Links to the newsletter will be sent out. Proposal for a shared campaign around promoting Sustainable Fish being planned for 2014. More detailed information on all of the above will appear on the Food Policy Council webpages in due course.

Karim’s diary
Dr Karim Farag is a Lecturer in Food Production and Technology at the Royal Agricultural University. Bristol and Royal Agricultural University are working together with Angela Raffle acting as advisor to the PhD study outlined below. We will be recruiting over the next few weeks.

The project title is The Role of Current and Future Food Systems in Alleviating Food Poverty in Urban Areas – An Inclusive Food System Model. The aim of the study is to review the current food system in the UK and measure its impact on food poverty in cities around the country. The project is also to provide a strategic and sustainable plan that can help government and other relevant stakeholders to alleviate food poverty on national, regional and individual levels. Finally, the study will provide a comparative analysis of food poverty levels today using the current available food system and in 2030 and 2050 with the adoption of a newly suggested systematic plan.

This project will be under my supervision with the assistance of Dr Richard Baines.

Kevin’s diary
Kevin Morgan is Professor of Governance & Development at the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff University.

5th AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference held this year in France www1.montpellier.inra.fr/aesop5/

Looking through the prisms of innovation and drivers for change, the 5th AESOP sustainable food planning conference seeks to address a number of questions: how can the actors of various value chains supply more sustainable food to cities? Considering the changing nature of rural-urban dynamics, how can rural and peri-urban areas play a more direct role in furnishing food and nutrition security for urban citizens? What processes and actors are best placed to promote the integration of food-related issues in urban policies, especially as regards public health, environmental integrity and social justice? What is the role of ethical consumers and engaged citizens? To what extent are the global issues of climate change and biodiversity taken into account in local food planning? And last but not least, what role does cultural diversity play in new urban food strategies? All these urgent questions will be explored at the 5th AESOP conference in the beautiful city of Montpellier.

Kevin is the founder and coordinator of the AESOP sustainable food planning network.

New School Curriculum
With ‘cooking from scratch’ identified as one of our priorities in Bristol it’s encouraging to read the following in the new School Curriculum.

Cooking and nutrition: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-design-and-technology-programmes-of-study/

“As part of their work with food, pupils should be taught how to cook and apply the principles of nutrition and healthy eating. Instilling a love of cooking in pupils will also open a door to one of the great expressions of human creativity. Learning how to cook is a crucial life skill that enables pupils to feed themselves and others affordably and well, now and in later life.”

Free School meals
With the debate raging about free school meals for infants it’s interesting to note the comments from Alison Garnham, chief executive, Child Poverty Action Group on the issue of this universal benefit. “Providing free school meals to all children actually improves help for children in poverty. More poor children in working families will now be eligible and fewer children will be put off by worries that they will be singled out as being poor because they have a free school meal. It is also a necessary investment for the future that will pay off by improving child health and raising educational attainment. No child should be too hungry to learn.”

Gus’ Diary
Gus Hoyt is Bristol’s Deputy Mayor for Neighbourhoods, Environment & Council Housing.

With 10 year waiting lists for allotments in Oslo, Norway’s successful food growing movement MAJOBO has secured a temporary site with 150 plots (thousands of applications received)
With 10 year waiting lists for allotments in Oslo, Norway’s successful food growing
movement MAJOBO has secured a
temporary site with 150 plots (thousands of applications received)

Oslo was the most recent host city for the URBACT sustainable food project. It is amazing how similar schemes and barriers are for cities all around Europe. Here though we experienced projects including a wasteland in the middle of a major restructuring development taken over by temporary allotments, to garden allotments.

The first was driven by activists distraught at the urbanisation of their inner city, desperate to improve and celebrate biodiversity especially with corn. They originally had a demand ratio of nearly 500:1 for spaces and it has now grown considerably.

The second is a Norwegian institution where allotments are alongside areas for safe natural play. It was an absolute utopian dream and all of us kept rubbing our eyes. Children ran and played, chickens clucked, adults gossiped and exchanged tips and old people rested in the shade of the communal buildings or under the many varieties of apple and pear trees that covered the plot. The focus was more on the social side than food production with flowers mixed with veg.

The food we were served was exceptional and ranged from home grown to foraged to gourmet. I will also take to my grave the experience of being sung happy birthday in nine different languages – including sound effects and even traditional dancing. An all-round fantastic experience.

iAngela’s Diary
Dr Angela Raffle is a Consultant in Public Health.

Bristol’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy – it should be out soon and it will lend support for achieving a better food system. The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 brought massive changes to the way that the NHS is configured. Numerous organisations including the Health Protection Agency, all Primary Care Trusts, and all Strategic Health Authorities were abolished. A new set of organisations – NHS England, Public Health England and Clinical Commissioning Groups, had to be established. The responsibility for protecting and improving the health of the public – distinct from the task of treating and caring for the sick – has been given (back) to Local Government, and on 1 April 2013 the teams of public health staff who previously worked in NHS Primary Care Trusts transferred instead to become employees of Local Government. People with long memories will know that in 1974 public health was moved out of Local Government and into the NHS. People who have been on the inside of public sector restructuring will also know that the work this involves is considerable – think of it as like getting a divorce, remarrying, moving house, changing job, all at the same time and still having to maintain all your usual services and functions as you do it.

To keep a focus, within all this change, on the complex task of improving the public’s health, every Local Authority is required to have a ‘Health and Wellbeing Board’ which brings together key leaders from health and care systems. The Board has to have a ‘Health and Wellbeing Strategy’. Bristol’s draft Strategy was consulted on earlier in 2013 and is now nearing the final stages of preparation. One of the key priorities in the draft Strategy is ‘To achieve a healthier, more sustainable, more resilient food system for the City to benefit the local economy and the environment.’ This priority has been influenced by the evidence that nutrition, particularly for children growing up in low income households, is getting worse, and by evidence that our current highly industrialised and centralised food system is using natural resources faster than they can be replaced.

The Health and Wellbeing Board endorses the definition of Good Food that is set out in the Bristol Food Charter…

“We all know that food should be tasty, healthy and affordable. But really ‘good food’ is produced, processed and distributed in ways that are good for nature, good for workers, good for animal welfare and good for local businesses.”

Some of the actions that the Health and Wellbeing Board wants to help drive forward include:

  • Procuring good food for patients, staff and visitors accessing health and care services.
  • Encouraging a culture of cooking from scratch, local food growing and the use of fresh, seasonal and fairly traded food through local government and health sector led programmes and services.
  • Helping to keep our highstreets vibrant and diverse, championing the use of local, independent food shops and traders so that everyone has access to affordable food.
  • Helping to minimise food waste by encouraging the composting of inedible food, and the redistribution of good food that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.
  • Using our combined influence and commissioning to support work to tackle obesity, nutritional deficiency and food poverty.

Kristin’s diary
Kristin Sponsler represents community groups and initiatives on the Food Policy Council.

URBACT Summer University report
On 28–31 August Simone Osborn and I travelled to Trinity College in Dublin Ireland for the 2nd annual URBACT Summer University (http://urbact.eu/en/news-and-events/view-one/urbactevents/?entryId=4910). “This event offered a unique learning experience to URBACT Local Support Group members and strengthened their skills and capacities to develop participative action-planning in urban policies in their home cities. Over the three days 300 urban practitioners, policy-makers, representatives of NGOs, civil society and the private sector worked together to develop a series of Local Action Plans designed to meet real challenges facing European cities today.”

In order to support these objectives the programme divided all of the participants up into working groups around 8 themes: Shared Public Spaces; Mixed Use of City Centres; Promoting Entrepreneurship; Open Innovation for Sustainable Cities; 21st Century Public Services; Human Capital; Low Carbon Transition; and Attractive Cities for Young People to Live and Work. We were all tasked with developing a Local Action Plan (which is the final deliverable for our URBACT project which ends in 2015) for the fictional city of Allium. Each group was to employ the URBACT Method (http://urbact.eu/fileadmin/general_library/7th_issue_627x297_WEB.pdf) and LSG Toolkit (http://urbact.eu/fileadmin/general_library/URBACT_Toolkit_online_4.pdf) in dealing with their task.

“Allium is a city of about 300,000 people suffering from the decline of traditional manufacturing industries, the loss of mixed use of its medieval core, detachment from its university, rising unemployment, and poor quality housing and other social amenities.” The fictional Low Carbon Transition Deputy Mayor set us a challenge to solve with our Local Action Plan. How can we mobilise stakeholders to engage into low energy consumption, while reducing social and environmental injustice?

The entire process was an extremely intense experience that involved working with a group of people I had never met before from many different European cultures to deliver a piece of work that had to be presented at the end of three days including solutions to issues in a city that didn’t exist! No pressure!

In the end we came through with the help and guidance of the excellent URBACT facilitators and LAB managers, and my group was one of the winners of our ‘Dragons’ Den’ challenge. The University was an unforgettable experience in working with a team with participative action techniques to achieve a common aim. I hope that some of that experience will help to feed into our planning work in Bristol around the Good Food Plan.

To see the videos and Powerpoints of the process that the working groups went through in generating their ‘Allium’ Local Action Plans please go to the Summer University 2013 pages on the URBACT website here (http://university2013.urbact.eu/ – go to the tabs of the various working groups underneath the header illustration at the top of the page).

A packed session at the URBACT Summer University in Dublin
A packed session at the URBACT Summer University in Dublin

URBACT Summer School visit to Dublin Food Co-op
‘Dublin food co-op proved the ideal place for a summer school visit. A very convivial space for local producers, visitors and members alike, the co-op encapsulates the ethics we’re striving for through our Good Food Charter, with its emphasis on fresh, local, environmentally friendly and fairtrade produce at affordable prices. Alongside the fresh fruit and veg, other groceries, wholefood and fresh artisan bread are available as seen in the photos.

Established in 1983, Dublin Food Co-op is 100% owned and controlled by members, who not only save money at the tills but also democratically decide how the Co-op operates http://dublinfood.coop/drupal/
Established in 1983, Dublin Food Co-op is 100% owned and controlled by members, who not only save money at the tills but also democratically decide how the Co-op operates http://dublinfood.coop/drupal/

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