As Professor Kevin Morgan reported to the Food conference in June the focus has been in the following areas:
- Promoting and safeguarding the diversity of the High Street. Here he stressed the role of the Bristol Independents campaign as an example of a community initiative positively promoting retail diversity. However the Food Policy Council has also supported the work by Bristol City Council to develop an Strategic action plan for local shopping areas and markets.
- Public procurement. Kevin described the opportunity this food market has in terms of reshaping the food system of the city and referred to the work by Roy Heath who has been commissioned on behalf of the Food Policy Council to help the public sector in the city to refocus its annual spending much more on local, seasonal and organic produce. This work has now identified a combined £6 million annual spend on food by 6 public organisations in the city.
- The third strand highlighted was community/urban growing. Here he emphasised the importance of growing more food in the city but also stressed the importance of growing food in bringing people and communities together, this is the “convening power of food”.
Finally, there has been a lot of work to agree a vision and a simple message that can be used as a dialogue entry point resulting in the Bristol Good Food message, food that is good for people, places and the environment. This has been developed into the Food Charter. The charter is being used to ensure the buy in of many strategic people and organisations in the city.
However the conference also identified other priority work. Prominent themes coming from speakers and workshops were:
- A training theme, looking to equip planners, procurement officers and other core staff with skills to bring about the necessary changes, helping growers be productive even in extreme weather conditions such as those encountered this year and helping to replace loss of inter-generational cookery skills found in many families today.
- A focus on well-being, addressing obesity and related illnesses. The potential of the many community growing projects providing a focus for this work was suggested but not fully explored and this needs to be the subject of further work. Food poverty was highlighted as an urgent and real issue for the city to address.
- Finally, promotion to achieve widespread take up of the Soil Association Food for Life and Catering Mark Scheme. was a very prominent message along with the need to emulate Malmo and to develop a carbon assessment of the food system, and use this evidence to shape future policy and buying practices.
The meeting discussed these outcomes with the expressed aim to check that everything had been captured and to agreed to review the existing work programme in the light of these new proposals.
The meeting also reviewed 4 new major food reports:
- Council for the Protection of Rural England, From Field to Fork: the value of England’s local food webs, June 2012
- Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, Achieving food security in the face of climate change, April 2012
- Making Local Food Work report, Food from the urban fringe: Issues and Opportunities, February 2012
- UK Government Environmental Audit Committee report on Sustainable Food, April 2012.
The analysis included relevance to the Food Policy Council agenda. The reviews were provided by Joy Carey and can be obtained from Steve Marriott, details below or downloaded as a pdf here.
In July Francois Jegou from Brussels came to look at the range and intensity of work on food in Bristol as part of an EU project “Sustainable Food in Urban Communities”. During his day and half here we gave him the opportunity to meet people and to see projects across the city.
The projects/places included; St Philips Market, FareShareSW, Severn Project in Whitchurch and Keynsham, Square Food Foundation, Hartcliffe Health and Environment Action Group, St Werburgh’s City Farm Café and Feed Bristol. The visit was really valuable because it highlighted the need to network much more and the benefits of tours such as this. The visits gave an opportunity to explain the Food Policy Council vision in person and explore what that means in a practical sense. A big thanks to all the projects that welcomed us.
Don’t forget to sign the Bristol Good Charter if you have not done so, see bristolgoodfood.org.
Steve Marriott 0117 922 4462 or