The convening power of food (Projects)

In mid-October visitors from 8 European cities visited Bristol to see and understand the scale of sustainable food activity in the city, to share some ideas of the nature of food projects in their cities and to help plan the next phase of a joint European project titled ‘Sustainable Food in Urban Communities’.

The cities represented were: Oslo (Norway), Gotenburg (Sweden), Vaslui (Romania), Brussels (Belgium), Amersfoot (Holland), Athens (Greece), Messina (Italy), and Lyon (France). The project will also include Ourense in Spain.

The highlight of the visit was an evening session at MShed that illustrated food projects in each city, with presentations limited to 3 minutes each. It was also a great opportunity for people to meet and share ideas informally. Watching people struggle to keep their presentations to 3 minutes greatly added to the convivial atmosphere. We learnt about some really inspiring projects. We will share more information about these through the newsletter in coming issues.

Alongside the sharing the other main outcome of the visit was for the cities to work together to finalise the proposals for the second phase of the project. The project, if approved, will run from April next year for two and half years and will support each city to set up a local support group (Bristol is ahead of the game with the Food Policy Council) and to develop and start implementing their action plans. Again, we have done much work towards this already in Bristol. The benefit for Bristol in being involved in the project is to bring in extra resources to help progress food work in the city. This will include both financial support and access to expertise.

The focus of the proposed next phase will be around three themes: growing, delivering and enjoying (food). Bristol will lead on the enjoying theme working with Oslo and Vaslui. Core to this theme is the issue of disengagement from food, the extent of which is different from country to country. The spectrum ranges from the extreme in this country (but with positive trends to recover some of the ground) to southern European countries where this is seemingly a new phenomenon but one that is making inroads. The project encompasses all aspects of food: growing and production, access, choices and health. This is great news for us and will provide a mechanism to promote the Bristol Good Food Charter and measure its impact on changing the food culture of the city.

For people wanting to find out more about the project there is a website:

Also by contacting Steve Marriott or Dorothy Greaves at the City Council you can access a briefing paper on the project taken to the Food Policy Council meeting in October and ‘State of the Art’ paper produced by the URBACT team. Both of these papers are now available on our Publications page. or

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