Fariha Blockley, Network Builder at FoodFutures, looks at how alternative gifting can help support our local economy. 

As the nights draw in and the sound of Christmas hits begin to fill the streets and flood our radios, some of us wonder at the environmental cost of Christmas. The wrapping paper that can’t be recycled, the pressure to consume food and drink. Adverts telling us to buy the latest phone, gadget, or must-have sofa. 

The desire to not buy into the disposable culture, yet not be the only one to not give a present can make the festive season a time of tension. Well this year there is an alternative provided in the form of a FoodFriends gift membership. 

The FoodFriends scheme allows members the opportunity to play an active part in helping to build a sustainable local food economy, whilst being entered into a monthly prize draw for local food vouchers. It was set up to raise money for local organic farming projects and to help train small scale farmers. 

Why support the FoodFriends scheme?

This local initiative plays an active role in addressing:

  • The ageing farming population (less than 3% are under 35).
  • The lack of training and skills in organic horticulture.
  • The challenge of funding the start-up costs of new enterprises when the potential financial returns from farming are a real threat to future food security. 
  • The many barriers to entering farming, such as the high costs of land and rural accommodation. 

The Plot’s FarmStart training combines teaching how to grow food in harmony with nature, with help to access land, funding, a market, distribution routes and a wider support network. By giving new entrant farmers the opportunity to learn skills in growing and running a small value-based business, they are equipping growers of the future with the tools to provide North Lancashire with fresh, local, sustainable produce. 

The gift of a FoodFriends membership not only provides the recipient with the knowledge that they are supporting the future food security of the district; but they will receive monthly newsletters telling them about the work they are supporting and opportunities to visit The Plot’s training site.They will also be invited to social events where food grown on The Plot will be served and they can join discussions that shape sustainable food work locally. Every FoodFriends member is entered into a monthly draw where they have the chance of winning one of six £30 Food Vouchers to spend with a partner business. 

If you would like to learn more about the scheme, or buy a gift membership, visit: foodfutures.org.uk/foodfriends

You could also join the Autumn Feast on 23 November where you can sample Plot produce and learn more about the FoodFriends scheme. To book your place go to foodfutures.org.uk/events

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