FoodFutures (North Lancashires Sustainable Food Network), recently held a celebratory ‘Shared Futures event’ that was followed by a strategy day to reflect on the network’s work so far whilst identifying key next steps.
Both events were well attended, with representatives from Lancaster City Council, Public Health, local community food projects, the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Eden Project North, Lancaster University, Morecambe Bay Food Bank, Landworkers’ Alliance and our local farming community attending one or both events.
The Shared Futures evening event reviewed the wicked global issues of climate change, declining public health and the ecological emergency, and how we need to rethink food systems in order to tackle these challenges.
Mike Berners Lea contributed the global perspective; highlighting global empathy, systems thinking and locally adapted solutions as key to tackling the ecological crises, in addition to a shift towards more plant based diets.
Rebecca Laughton provided a national perspective; discussing learnings from the Peoples Food Policy process which (perhaps unsurprisingly) reflected FoodFutures local experience. In essence: paid coordinator time is essential for increasing the capacity of networks to drive forward collaborative strategic working. Rebecca also reminded us of the importance of a shared vision that answers: what kind of food future do we want to see and create? The Peoples Food Policy process used the six key pillars of food sovereignty to explore and create this shared vision. Should we do the same here in Lancaster?
As part of the strategy day FoodFutures reviewed its draft Action Plan; reflecting on what has progressed, what hasn’t (and why), and what else has been added. We also talked about what else we should be working on and how we want to go about creating a food strategy for Lancaster District. (Presentations, key documents and notes from the day are available to view online.
We agreed that any strategy process needs to incorporate the time to listen and engage with a wide range of stakeholders across the food system, and should be located in broader policy and strategy. We also agreed that any strategy document produced needs to be accessible, celebratory and short, and needs to address ‘global targets that are adapted for our bioregion whilst having a local flavor’.
FoodFutures strategic priorities going forward therefore include working with Lancaster City Council around the ecological emergency and community wealthy building agenda; developing a local food strategy (using participatory processes); implementing the 10 year FarmStart vision and increasing the partnership’s impact through marketing, knowledge exchange and fundraiser roles. The partnership has also agreed to work towards a silver Sustainable Food City (SFC) Award.