Finding the key ingredients for success

Traci Lewis - 26 February 2014

Traci’s regular blog about Plymouth’s journey as a sustainable food city.

Food Plymouth Action PlanAfter a night of monumental rain and flooding in Devon and Cornwall, I turned up to our last Food Plymouth Steering Group meeting not sure if anyone would even make it!

But out of the rain emerged a City Councillor along with representatives from the large public sector institutions; Plymouth University and Plymouth Community Health Care, as well as small social enterprises such as Food is Fun, Allways Apples and Diggin’ It.

Although the size and remit of each organisation differs greatly, everyone was there with the same objective; to work together to help achieve a 'Healthy and Sustainable Food City', as laid out in our Plymouth Food Charter and Action Plan.

We are a diverse group of organisations from across the city and this is what makes it unique and helps to deliver change. For me, the most important ingredient is the partnership itself and the way we work together.

Here are a few examples of how we do this to help make change happen:

  • Sharing our knowledge and experience: In the meeting some common challenges and themes were discussed, like accessing funding, marketing the work that is done and getting communities engaged with it; as well as new opportunities for working together! For example, local business Tamar Grow Local are now delivering their local and organic veg and other produce into Plymouth, so a key discussion was around how we can we help them be successful by spreading the word and help to provide drop off points around the city for the produce.
  • Working together: Paul Cox of the National Marine Aquarium presented their work to support sustainable seafood in Plymouth. We are now collaborating to achieve our shared vision of more local and sustainable fish and food to be sold within the city's schools, hospitals, restaurants and other eateries.
  • Behind the scenes: We are currently developing ‘Future of Food’, the food section for the new Plymouth Plan, a 15 year strategic and planning document for the city. This is the first time for many years that food will have its own section within Plymouth City Council’s delivery plan - great news for the future of Plymouth!


  • Working with local businesses: We need to ensure that local farmers and food producers get involved and that we help to provide them with new markets in the city. Currently we are working to develop a big food event in June and a new regular producer market in the city centre. Also we run the annual Plymouth Food Awards, which celebrate and support local businesses. Complimenting the existing successful city food festival 'Flavour Fest' in August perfectly.
  • Looking to the future: A very important question: How do we keep this partnership buoyant and effective? At the meeting a smaller group of us agreed to look at future governance and funding for the partnership.

So, continuing to working together to secure a sustainable future makes sense! We have an exciting and challenging year ahead and everyone seemed to leave the meeting enthused about the coming year. The rain even stopped for a few hours.

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Traci Lewis is a Project Manager for the Soil Association and Coordinator of the Food Plymouth partnership. @TraciLewis79

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Traci Lewis
13 March 2014 11:30

Thanks Anna! Yes challenging but exciting journey. I enjoy hearing about yours too, thanks :)

Anna Louise Batchelor
08 March 2014 12:28

Always plenty of challenges in delivery local Food Traci so well done with all your progress :-)

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