Food Plymouth - So what's a Sustainable Food City then?
Traci Lewis - 22 January 2014
Food Plymouth started as an idea, based on pioneering urban food programmes in North America - I was initially brought in to help develop the partnership, business plan and Lottery funding bid.
Plymouth was chosen primarily due to the pioneering work of Plymouth City Council School Meals Service who were the first local authority to ever achieve Gold Food For Life Catering Mark. Along with some other unique opportunities and challenges; an abundance of local and organic produce from both land and sea, against a backdrop of food deserts and health inequalities within the City itself. Equally importantly, it has been supported by a really good mix of people and partners from across the city, who have got behind the vision and worked hard to help make it happen.
The work started back in 2010 and, despite our Lottery funding bid being turned down, we realised it was too important to leave there, so we began to develop the partnership through the Plymouth Food Procurement Project resulting in the launch of the Plymouth Food Charter in 2011, followed by the delivery framework of the Sustainable Food City Action Plan a year later. We are now a partner within Interreg DEAL programme, to support 'the economic development of local food'. Through DEAL, Food Plymouth is undertaking research, raising awareness and delivering training and local actions to promote a thriving local food economy.
So what exactly is Food Plymouth?
- We are a city wide, cross sector partnership of organisations and businesses;
- Our vision for a healthy and sustainable food city is laid out in the Plymouth Food Charter;
- A Steering Group of over 15 local organisations and businesses meet regularly to support collaboration and action around the aims of the Charter and Action Plan;
- Over 80 local businesses and organisations have now made pledges to the Charter;
- We have developed an awareness raising programme of communications, events and the Plymouth Food Awards, to support our aims.
What are our key current projects?
- DEAL: We are working with key public, private and third sector food buyers in the city to help drive further sustainable procurement.
- Plymouth's Good Food Map: We have developed this new free printed and online map, listing twenty-eight Plymouth eateries who source local food with clear provenance; as a tool to support buyer awareness and engagement.
- Markets: Working with local stakeholders to launch a new thriving local food market in the city centre this year.
- Schools: Working with Plymouth City Council School Meals Service to increase uptake of school meals in the City and support a Food For Life approach to food education in schools
- Plymouth Plan: We have developed a 'Future of Food' paper for the new Plymouth Plan, which will inform policy and planning in the City for the next 15 years, and are now working with Plymouth City Council to ensure a robust and effective final document.
Plymouth is now also a founding member of the rapidly growing Sustainable Food Cities Network, in very good company with other pioneering cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Brighton. The Sustainable Food Cities programme, led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, launched last summer, is working to create six exemplar models of what a city can do to transform its food culture.
With more than 100 urban areas across the UK expected to join the network by the end of the three-year programme. The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations using food as a vehicle for driving positive changes.
We are excited to see what 2014 brings. I will be doing a regular monthly blog on Plymouth's progress as we work towards being one of the first formally accredited Sustainable Food Cities later this year. Do also follow us and stay in touch via: .foodplymouth.org @foodplymouth .facebook.com/foodplymouth.
Traci Lewis is a Project Manager for the Soil Association and Coordinator of the Food Plymouth partnership. @TraciLewis79