NuFEAST research reveals how lucky we are in Bridport

NuFEAST research reveals how lucky we are in Bridport

Over the summer 36 Bridport residents took part in four focus groups looking at what makes our food culture special and what we can do to preserve and strengthen it.The research project, NuFEAST, led by Bournemouth academic and nutritionist Dr Juliet Wiseman sets out to explore how sustainable food and eating practices, including growing food at home, in community gardens and allotments, is associated with food knowledge, confidence and skills and “nutritional well-being.”

Focus groups were held at Waitrose, St Mary’s School, Mountfield and the Flourish Pop-up Wellbeing Cafe. Each one drew quite a different crowd and so made for very stimulating conversations. The sessions were all filmed and are currently in the process of being transcribed and analysed.

Initial findings suggest that Bridport is fortunate to have retained so many independent food and drink producers and retailers which provides shoppers with the opportunity to buy and enjoy good local food. This is certainly not the case everywhere and the human scale of Bridport’s centre is also key to an enjoyable shopping experience.

Bridport’s reputation for great food is the result of the huge efforts of many people over many years and is supported by a special ecosystem of small-scale producers who are also active land rights campaigners. The influence of River Cottage, Trill Farm and nearby Tamarisk Farm, the first organic farm in the area, also plays a major role.

A strong Grow Your Own culture also exists and complements the sense of community people feel when they are able to actually meet and develop relationships with food producers and retailers. So much so that some participants had even moved to the area because of how impressed they are by the food culture here.

But there are also tensions – particpants felt food can also be socially divisive and easy access to good food isn’t universal. Engaging working parents can be tricky when it takes time, money, knowledge and confidence to make the most of the great produce on offer.

One thing is for sure: closer collaboration between food producers, retailers, educators, academics and policy makers is certainly necessary if the diverse and rich food culture in Bridport is to be strengthened and preserved. Watch this space!

Food Festival AGM and Front of House Awards

Food Festival AGM and Front of House Awards

Bridport Local Food Group Annual General Meeting & Celebration of Local Food

Wednesday 16th November 2016 in the Town Hall Bridport

Bridport Local Food Group, the committee of volunteers who organise the annual Bridport Food Festival, invite individuals and businesses interested in local food to attend the AGM.

The event will highlight achievements over the last year and be an opportunity to thank sponsors and supporters of this year’s Food Festival. We also welcome those who would like to find out about either joining the Food Group or possibly sponsoring next year’s festival, which runs from Sunday 11 June to Saturday 17 June 2017.

The winners of the Bridport Local Food Group Front of House Awards will be awarded at the AGM. The aim of the award is to show recognition and appreciation of individuals who work locally within the food and drink industry. The categories are restaurants, pubs/bars, cafes, food to go and food and drink retail. All candidates have been nominated by the general public impressed with the level of service received from them when dining out, having a drink or shopping in one of the many food outlets in the area. The winner of each category receives £50 and a plaque to display in their premises.

If you are interested in attending the AGM please contact Jay Anderson, Chairman, Bridport Local Food Group on 07907 844919 or jjandsjanderson@tiscali.co.uk

More Farmers, Better Food: A framework for British Agricultural Policy

More Farmers, Better Food: A framework for British Agricultural Policy

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Farmers’ groups across the board have been critical of the lack of planning from government and ongoing uncertainty which have followed the vote to Leave; the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and a coalition of environment, public health and anti-poverty groups have all shared their visions for future policy since the vote, but ministers are still unclear on what post-Brexit agricultural support will look like, what the future will be for agri-environment schemes and what its policy priorities will be as the UK negotiates its withdrawal.

“The UK’s small-scale, ecological and family farms are at the heart of our rural culture and communities; they create employment, protect cherished landscapes and provide a huge amount of the food we eat. However, in the past, the UK’s farming strategies have undermined domestic production of healthy, affordable food and left many small farms unfairly disadvantaged in the market place,” say the Landowrkers Alliance.

The LWA is calling for a British Agricultural Policy which embodies the following principles:

  1. Focus on National Food Security
  2. Direct public money to affordable food and good farming
  3. End the discrimination against small farms
  4. Create and maintain decent jobs in farming
  5. Improve environmental and welfare standards
  6. Invest in farmer-led research for resilient solutions
  7. Build markets that work for farmers
  8. Democratize agricultural policy making

Read the full text of the LWA vision here

Enjoy fresh, fantastic food, fine art and funky vintage this Easter Sunday!

Enjoy fresh, fantastic food, fine art and funky vintage this Easter Sunday!

Following her research into local sourcing for Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset last year, Tamsin Chandler started a drive to bring a new food market to the town. The research for CLS revelead a disconnect in our local food system: the biggest problem food producers face is getting their produce to the public, while the public are keen to buy locally produced foods but don’t know where to find them.

“I put two and two together and spoke to lots of people,” says Tamsin. “Everyone agreed a weekly food market would be great for producers, shoppers and the town so I set about making it happen. We have a ridiculous amount of great food producers in the area and my dream is to have an almost entirely local food market.”

This Easter Sunday the local community food market launches in The Cattle Market, St Michael’s Estate, trading from 9am till 3pm. Wherever possible, Bridport Food Market will host growers, farmers and producers within a 12 mile radius and be genuinely representative of the food being produced in or near Bridport from small scale growers such as hobby-farmers, allotmenteers and smallholders right up to more established, successful brands. Quality and variety will be the primary focus, along with affordability and accessibility for all.

Bridport Food Market addresses a clear need and will deliver several benefits including:

  • providing local growers, farmers & producers of all sizes affordable access to customers
  • Offering a viable alternative to supermarkets when people do their weekly food shop
  • Creating employment opportunities
  • Adding to Bridport’s already popular and vibrant reputation as an important market town
  • Drawing footfall to St Michael’s Estate & its resident Sunday trading businesses
  • Boosting Bridport’s reputation as a ‘foodie town’ within the flourishing British food & drink market

FFI CONTACT:
Tamsin Chandler   m: 07834 547 880  e: tamsinchandler@gmail.com   w: bridportfoodmarket.co.uk

Mitch discovers the community food networks in Bridport

Mitch discovers the community food networks in Bridport

One day in spring 2015, Mitch Burt – a young, enthusiastic backyard gardener – was on his way to town from his home in Skilling through Bridport’s Community Orchard. It must have been a Thursday as the Orchard’s community allotment group were gathered and working away in their space tucked away at the top left corner of the Orchard. This group meets weekly in the growing season, providing access to land for food and a supportive community of fellow gardeners to work and learn alongside, raising some crops together and also offering 12 individual and accessible one metre square raised beds for personal growing.

Mitch was curious and decided to approach the community allotmenteers to find out what was happening. He’d not long stopped working at a local supermarket, which, in his words was pretty “soul destroying” and so he was actively searching for ways to use and improve his growing skills.

A chance encounter with Linda Hull, the local food co-ordinator for Communities Living Sustainably and also a member of the community allotment, led to Linda being able to introduce Mitch to the wider community food network in and around Bridport. Mitch says:  “That day in the Community Allotment was the starting point for some great experiences.  I’ve met lots of new people and got really involved with some great projects.”

At Ourganics, Mitch has taken part in several Plan B work days and has met a whole group of likeminded people. “I’m now doing a permaculture design course – it’s great to have this easy, local access to such training. It’s given me some great ideas and is teaching me a lot.”

He has also volunteered his time at the Edible Garden in St Mary’s working alongside an experienced grower. “It’s been a good experience to work in a managed system with more structure than my own garden. And with the Eco-club starting up I’m also having the opportunity to teach young people – the school garden is such a great resource helping us to link teachers, students and parents.”

This year Mitch found himself joining the board of the Community Orchard. “People ask me my opinion! It’s a great chance to share what I know and to be taken seriously.”

Reflecting on how CLS has been useful to him, Mitch says: “CLS speeded up the links I was able to make. Access to these experiences has helped to give me a focus and direction. I feel now like I’ve got a goal I can move towards – I’d love to own some land and be as self- sufficient as possible. Doing all this has given me a chance to use and improve my skills and knowledge and has led to such really positive change for me!”

It’s Up To Us: Report from the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2015

It’s Up To Us: Report from the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2015

As I emerge, blinking, from the whirlwind that was the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2015, the loudest message I take away is a pressing need to ask new and different questions about food, to stimulate this conversation locally and to involve as many diverse stakeholders as possible.

Our food system is failing the public good: it is unsustainable, unfair, unhappy and unstable. We currently pay for our food four times over – first at the checkout, then through taxes and subsequently with health impacts and environmental degradation. It is this reality which requires us, collectively, to have a root and branch NEW conversation about how we farm, shop, cook and eat.

Two recently published reports were highlighted at the conference and I recommend them to anyone who cares about food. The first, Urgent Recall, written by New Economics Foundation analysts, asks what makes a food system successful? Its findings suggest that the historical criteria of high output, low prices, and eradication of deficiency diseases are now outdated. Instead, there is a new imperative to transform the objectives of our food system to deliver high wellbeing, social justice and environmental stewardship.

The second report, Square Meal, published by a coalition of ten UK organisations, insists there is overwhelming evidence showing the need for a major change of national policy to ensure farming, health and nature go hand in hand.

In the face of an indefensible lack of leadership from politicians and big business, the Oxford Real Farming Conference concluded that civil society must be the engine of change – it is WE who have to push for the food system we want and need – and that we can create change with every meal we take.

As we begin 2015, CLS invites you to take part in a FoodFuture ‘Square Meal’ dialogue locally. In the run up to Climate Week at the beginning of March, help grow the FoodFuture partnership and connect directly with the people of Bridport.

Join the conversation at FoodFuture Bridport!