Grow-your-own groups must act together

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March 8, 2010

The local food movement is too fragmented and can only work if the government puts its full weight behind it.  So Professor Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University, told guests at the Growing Collaboration event at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The “quiet revolution” against our industrialised food system is helping more people to understand where their food comes from and how it’s produced.  

But action is needed at the centre to counteract the hidden health, environmental and economic costs of our cheap food culture, said Professor Morgan, a member of the Food Ethics Council

“Nothing helps people to reconnect more than food.  Locally, sustainably-produced food is absolutely essential.  

The biggest weakness of our local food movement is fragmentation and localisation.  It can’t do anything until central government acts in a more strategic way.  The government has to get its act together to be more supportive.”

The Growing Collaboration conference was organised by Eatsome, an NHS-funded project which aims to improve healthy eating in Cornwall.  The event enabled people who grow, prepare and eat food in a sustainable way to get together, share their experience and strengthen contact.

The fragmented nature of Cornwall’s own local food projects became evident during the three-minute “soap box” slot at the conference, when we all had a chance to explain what we’re doing. 

Here’s a selection: – 

  • Camel Community Supported Agriculture – that’s us, of course
  • Bugle Greenspace  –  its Growing Together project aims to link owners of unused gardens and greenhouses with other local people who would like to grow their own but don’t have a growing space
  • Trevalon Organic Vegetables – established organic veg box scheme and online shop near Liskeard supplying local businesses.  In the process of setting up a Community Supported Agriculture Scheme
  • Chyan Community Field – volunteers around Penryn are developing allotments, pond, strawbale tea-shed and toolstore, sensory garden, composting area, covered cob seat, playground and community orchard
  • Seeds, Soup and Sarnies – providing families in St Blazey and Treverbyn parishes and parts of St Austell with the chance to share gardening skills and favourite recipes
  • Cornish Guild of Smallholders – Lostwithiel Local Produce Market, Taste Cornwall community shop in Liskeard, annual show
  • Transition Cornwall Network – supporting Transition groups throughout Cornwall move towards a positive, resilient, low carbon future
  • Soil Association – helping to develop community supported agriculture projects in partnership with Making Local Food Work
  • Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C) – its Growing Food at Home programme aims to make home-grown food more accessible.  Works with Cornwall Waste Action‘s compost project
  • Healthy Early Years (HEY) – “nipper nutrition” project aimed at nurseries
  • The Big Lunch – annual Eden Project initiative to get people out on their street, raise a glass and share food with their neighbours
  • Penair School chef – unorthodox and award-winning approach to school dinners in Cornwall
  • Cornwall Food Programme – addressing the local food supply needs of the NHS in Cornwall
  • Cornwall Healthier Eating and Food Safety Awards (CHEFS) – award scheme for restaurants and cafes 
  • Cornwall Agri-food Council – aims to “transform Cornwall into the UK’s exemplar agri-food centre of excellence”
  • Somerset Land & Food – developing a digital tool to map food projects in the south west

It should now be clear why we all need to be working together in a much more organised way!

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