Have you ever wished you could get more local food? Or have you wondered which farmers and producers are based in North Lancashire?

A new initiative aims to better connect local food producers with customers in the district.

In Lancaster District and the surrounding areas, we have a range of local farmers, food producers and suppliers. That is great news, and together they represent a strength for local food resilience.

However, due to supermarkets and their complex supply chains many of the traditional routes to market for small-scale producers – such as farmers’ markets, farm-gate outlets and local shops – have not survived.

That’s where the idea of a “food hub” comes in. A food hub brings together food from a number of local suppliers, markets it and distributes it collectively, within the same region. This way, customers can order from just one online shop and deliveries can be combined to save on packaging, transport costs and carbon emissions.

Customers know which farms and local businesses they are supporting and that their money is kept within the local economy, supporting our local producers.

As a customer in North Lancashire, this could mean you can order organic veg grown without any artificial fertilisers from local farms, or locally baked bread using flour milled from local heritage grains that used to be traditionally grown in the North West. You might also choose eggs from free range chickens who mainly feed on pasture, some beef from cattle who graze nature reserves for conservation purposes, or milk from a cow-with-calf dairy (where the calves stay with their mothers until they are weaned).

The idea of local food hubs has grown in popularity in recent years. An example of a successful established hub is Tamar Grow Local in the Tamar Valley in Devon which has produce available from around 40 farms. Newer examples, closer to home, are found in Dumfries and Galloway. They all have at their core an intention to revive the local food cultures and provide good food for local people at a fair price, while also being good for the planet and place.

During the summer of 2024, a pilot of the future food hub in North Lancashire will be running, initially with around 8-10 local food producers. We hope to be able to supply a range of seasonal foods including veg, fruit, bread, meat, eggs, cheese, honey, mushrooms and preserves.

We are interested in hearing from people who might be able to host a collection point in a community setting, so that orders can be taken to shared pick up points.

The Food Hub pilot is funded by the UK Government with Shared Prosperity Levelling Up Funds.

In addition to the development of a new food hub, there are also plans in place to scale up local nature-friendly food production in and around the district, through the development of a new community farm.

Read more about how the food hub could benefit our region in the feasibility study.

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