In October and November 2022, the Closing Loops project hosted four World Cafe events to celebrate the launch of the ambitious new climate action project. The evenings were an invitation to the public to get to know the project team and find out more about the aims of the project and how people can get involved. They were also an opportunity for the project team to gather ideas and get feedback on the work areas at this early stage of the five-year project. 

Anyone who attended one of the World Cafe events was invited to share their views and ideas through evaluation activities at the beginning and end of each session, and through discussions in smaller groups. These discussions were focussed on the core themes of the Closing Loops project.

One of the highlights of the evening was, of course, the food. For each event, a local chef from the growing FoodFutures chefs and community cooks network prepared a meal using a mix of local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients and rescued surplus food. Each of the menus was unique, but they were all equally tasty and wholesome. 

But before the event participants could dig in, they were invited to share their ideas around three of the core topics of the Closing Loops project: Surplus food and waste reduction; REconomy and regenerative enterprise; and food and cooking. The discussions were lively, and showed that there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm in the local community. Constraints such as limited time, energy and money often mean that individuals have to make compromises when it comes to good, locally produced and healthy food. However, there is great interest in community-based solutions such as community gardening, community composting and sharing networks that can help ease the strain on individual households and build new friendships at the same time. Participants also rated support for local, independent and regenerative businesses very highly. Such enterprises actively try to change extractive and degenerative practices and instead generate social, environmental and economic benefits locally and globally. 

What came out of the conversations around each topic will inform the work of the project team over the next four and a half years and feed into the wider work of the FoodFutures network. 

If you are interested in more details of the conversations around each topic, stay tuned on the FoodFutures local food column and blog. The World Cafe events have also led to many new connections being made. As we go into the new year with fresh energy, the Closing Loops team will take the outcomes of the conversations forward and deepen them in other upcoming events. 

To meet the Closing Loops team in person, save the date for Lancaster’s Spring Market on 17th March in Lancaster city centre. 

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