IMG_20180614_122403Last week Sustainable Food City Lancaster hosted a couple of themed meetings to develop outcomes from its June REFRESH event.

One session focused on our sustainable food economy, including increasing local food procurement by local institutions. The second session discussed and set aims for reducing the ecological impact of our local food system. Notes from both meetings are available to read online: Food and environment minutes August 2018                                            Food economy and procurement minutes August 2018


Both sessions reviewed outcomes from the June SFC Lancaster REFRESH event; filled in gaps; developed long term and short term aims, and identified who needs to be involved in making these aims a reality.

Some short term aims from the environment group included: auditing local food businesses re plastic use, food waste and water use to understand how they could be supported in reducing their environmental impacts. We also identified the need to establish local food enterprises that utilize current local waste streams e.g. mushroom growing on coffee grounds, preserve making from surplus veg, a community compost scheme. Longer term aims included establishing a FarmStart model that trains people in regenerative agriculture and grows the number of thriving regenerative farms locally. Another key aim is to become a zero carbon city with ongoing and active council/community dialogue and partnerships.

It was harder agreeing short term and long term aims in the food economy group as the issues are so huge and complex! However, some priorities were eventually identified after much discussion.

Short term aims include: finding out who is driving the Preston Model forward in Lancaster City Council and learn how this process can be supported; trialing one regular charter market stall that sells sustainable local produce and is run on a rotational basis by local producers; creating an ethical purchasing handbook. We also identified the need for a couple of research projects, including one that reviews our local institutions to explore current contracts and regulations regarding food procurement criteria – to understand what prevents them from procuring local and sustainable food at present. The second research project would map food production locally and identify where there are regular seasonal surpluses that need to be distributed locally.

Longer term priorities involve developing a ring of small producers around the District that are mission driven, commercially viable and whose produce is supplied to local organisations. Establishing a FarmStart model would aspire to support this process, alongside a training programme that offers marketing, business development advice etc. However, the barriers to making a small sustainable food business flourish are many and so we plan to create capacity- through paid posts- to continue supporting initiatives that work towards removing barriers around local food distribution etc

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