Over the past 20+ years, the Soil Association has been at the cutting edge of work to develop sustainable and stable markets for producers - and to improve public access to organic food.
Selling your produce directly into the local market can help strengthen and diversify your farm business. The benefits of local marketing include:
- Added value produce
- Greater control over what and how much you grow
- Fewer grade-outs: less wastage
- Customer contact, support and feedback
Over the years, the Soil Association has put considerable time and resources into supporting farmers and growers to explore - and establish - new and alternative routes to market that shorten supply chains, reduce (where possible) processing and packaging, and create closer relationships with the public. As result, we have seen the rapid development of initiatives at the local level.
The Soil Association was instrumental in the growth and development of the farmers' market concept, providing training workshops, media support and raising public awareness across the UK.
The first vegetable box scheme was set up in 1992, and there are now well over 500 schemes operating across the UK offering vegetables and fruit, as well as meat, dairy products and processed products. The Soil Association has provided extensive technical support in setting up box schemes across the UK, as well as working to promote box schemes as a sustainable model.
School farmers' markets
The Soil Association, in partnership with the Mid Wales Food and Land Trust, is establishing farmers' markets in school playgrounds. This follows a successful pilot with three schools within the Shropshire hills last year and the experience of the Mid Wales Food and Land Trust in Wales over the last five years.
School farmers' markets provide an innovative way of creating new markets for local producers, as well as hands-on educational experiences for children. They provide new access to fresh local food for parents and the community, creating a new food culture and social interaction.