Developing Sustainable Food Strategies

Developing Sustainable
Food Strategies

A process to enable communities to develop sustainable food systems which are less reliant on oil and other external inputs.

Background 2
The Project 2
The Need 2
The approach 4
Outputs and outcomes 4
The Project in detail 5
Proposed process 5
Introductory workshop 6
Bring together strong and leading partnership 6
Appoint a steering group 6
Ongoing workshops 6
Outcomes 7
A local strategy and a business/project plan 7
Enterprise support 7
An implementing body 7
A Local Food Network 7
Funding proposals 7
New local food projects 8
Timescales 8
Project management 8
Piloting 8
Next steps 9
What is f3? 9
Contributing members 9

Appendix: Draft agreement 12
This proposal is offered by Nick Weir, Greg Pilley and Alec Duthie of f3. For more details please email Nick at nick.weir@localfood.org.uk or phone him on 01453 840037

Background
Current mainstream agricultural and food retail systems depend heavily on oil. This dependence runs right through from initial production methods (oil-based fertilisers and pesticides), through distribution (supermarkets add thousands of air, sea and road food miles to most foods) to retail outlets, which are often out of town and require consumers to travel to purchase their food.

As society is forced to reduce energy consumption and oil-dependence, there will be an increasing need for localised economies, where the basic requirements of society (such as food) are supplied as close as possible to the point of consumption. Strong local communities with experience of working together to meet their basic needs will be much better placed to thrive in an oil-poor world than societies that rely on globalised production and distribution systems.

f3 is a co-operative of consultants across the UK, and has worked on over 160 local food projects over the last ten years. Our members have direct experience of community development, strategy and action planning combined with a thorough understanding of the issues facing the development of local and sustainable food systems. f3 recognises that the development of sustainable food strategies has to begin by understanding needs at grass roots and feeding this up to inform a local food strategy. To enable this we have designed a facilitated process that can be adapted to meet the needs of a range of local food interest groups that may be considering ways forward at the level of a town, city, district or even a county.

f3 members have been leading the types of initiatives which will be an essential part of the transition to a sustainable, post-oil world. The authors of this proposal have been directly involved in setting up successful Community Supported Agriculture projects, Food Hubs, Food Co-ops, Farmers Markets and other local food projects, and are members of the food group of Transition Stroud.

The Project
The project we are proposing is to enable f3 and a number of organisations or partnerships including Local Authorities, County Economic Development groups, health authorities and local food interest groups to work together through a facilitated process by which local needs can be translated into appropriate activities to meet agreed outcome objectives.

The Need
Local food interest groups are generally grass roots and community driven. There is great variation in skills and knowledge available to each group. In general activity has focussed on raising awareness of the issues and increasingly leading to a number of small local projects. However few have engaged with the strategic needs of the area – largely because the issues are complex and involve many stakeholders.
Many local food/sustainability groups have realised the need for structure and guidance in the development of a local food strategy for their area which will inform best use of their resources and highlight areas of intervention for effective change in their local food systems. For instance, over 15 Transition groups responded to an earlier version of this proposal by saying they would like to be part of this project.

Enabling local food requires committed participation from diverse stakeholders including representation from health, business, environment, farmers and community groups to address complex issues such as collaboration, transport, energy use, culture and investment. Our approach would enable participants to identify and support individual local food enterprises, promote capacity in the whole local food sector and if required establish the basis for continued support for local food within their area – a strategy or the remit for a local food organisation.

This project will also contribute to a national strategy for re-localising food systems. As more and more projects tackle issues of sustainable food production, this project can provide suggestions for best practice to be implemented elsewhere.

Initiatives such as Making Local Food Work and the Big Lottery Local Food Fund, Trusts and other government or NGO initiatives are already supporting individual projects; however, few localities are addressing their food systems as a whole. This project aims to develop strategies that can address an area’s needs in a holistic and sustainable way for the next few decades. Our experience is that national strategies can be unwieldy at local level and that parish level plans can be too small-scale. We believe that the ideal scale is District or market town level – this is the scale at which we are targeting. This project and we hope to involve all relevant stakeholders in its implementation. Once area strategies have been agreed, the projects which derive from them might then be supported by bids to the Local Food Fund for example.

This work can, in some cases, follow on from work on local food in market towns generated several years ago under the remit of the Countryside Agency (now Natural England), and by other agencies such as Food Links organisations. In urban areas it can link with the healthy eating agenda promoted by Primary Care Trusts and Health Action Zones, and ‘greening the city’ initiatives, whilst in rural areas it can integrate with countryside management objectives and complement changes happening in farming through the review of EU funding which now supports integrated land management. Wherever possible, we would aim for local food strategies to build on, or inform, the on-going work of Local Strategic Partnerships and community planning activity.

f3 was also involved in a pilot project for the Countryside Agency in 2006 called Food, People and Place, which piloted integration the of local food supply chains with agricultural and landscape management to promote local distinctiveness. The findings of this work included recognition of the importance of multi-stakeholder processes to create vital local food projects, and the need for District or County-level strategies within which smaller-scale parochial projects could sit.

Exciting work is being done by a number of academic and agricultural institutions around the world at present on ‘carbon farming’. This recognises that carefully managed horticultural and agricultural land can help absorb huge amounts of CO2. A sustainable local food system which is based on sound land management techniques may therefore have much wider beneficial outcomes than those to local communities, by helping to reduce the global effects of greenhouse gases.

The approach
The objective of this programme will be to pilot the development of sustainable local food strategies. Underpinning the project itself, and its on-going activities, will be a principal to build capacity locally. The role of f3 is to provide facilitation with knowledge of the local food scene.

Integral to the approach therefore, will be the following elements:

 Identifying appropriate solutions to local problems and needs based on local issues and opportunities
 Through partnership working, ensuring an integrated approach by agencies with remits for health, economy, farming and rural development
 Creating or building on community organisations, with an informed body of participants, strengthening the basis for ongoing local food work
Outputs and outcomes
We can expect each locality to start from a different point, in respect of local food and land issues, community structures, and existing strategies. In each case, therefore the first activity will be to draw together stakeholders to understand ‘where we are now’, before designing the process in detail.

So whilst each place will differ, we envisage the following outputs as part of the process:

 A report on the current state of the local food sector, including a SWOT analysis
 A District-wide strategy – which includes participants’ input into the analysis of their local food sector with recommendations and action plans for local projects
 Funding proposals – for ongoing self-sufficient projects
 An implementing body and network – a local food organisation or new enterprise with capacity to act
 New local food projects – Including Community Supported Agriculture, Food co-ops and buying groups, Food Hubs, communal allotment projects, etc

In terms of longer term outcomes, or impacts of the process, we would hope to see:
 better awareness amongst a wide body of local people of the issues and threats of a post peak-oil scenario on food security
 new learning and skills in community working, as well as technical skills in food production, food processing and food marketing
 multi-stakeholder forums helping integrate agencies with diverse remits (eg health and economy)
 better use of marginal, under-used, or poorly managed land in urban and peri-urban areas
 retention of the distinctiveness of landscapes by avoiding trends to monoculture and machinery-focused agriculture
 minimal ‘food miles’ for a wide range of locally produced goods
 new enterprise opportunities in food production, processing, distribution, catering and retail

Case study: Food People & Place project

In 2006 f3 were commissioned by the Countryside Agency in 2006, to pilot a new approach to community-led action to develop joint food and landscape action plans. This was piloted in three villages in England, in very different landscapes in Kent, Oxfordshire and Northumberland. The Kent pilot indicated the powerful vision and actions which can derive from well-co-ordinated community action, including projects such as a new school vegetable garden, a community-owned orchard, a local milk delivery scheme to help keep meadows under grazing management, and nature-trail walk cards.

The Project in detail
This describes what would happen in any one location, and can be replicated in any number of areas:

Proposed process
Local food has a wide range of interest groups. Our first activity would be to work with local stakeholders to identify all potentially interested parties, which may include:
 Local food businesses, community groups and activists (Action groups)
 Wider local food network including regional food groups and Food Links UK
 Agencies and local policy makers (e.g. Local Authorities, Economic Regeneration units, Primary Health Care Trusts, Rural Development Agencies)
 Local food interest groups (e.g. Transition initiatives).

Introductory workshop
Initial 1-day workshop with a wide range of stakeholders from the local community:
The purpose of this workshop would be to:
 Explore the issues faced in developing sustainable and local food projects
 Bring together local stakeholders as the starting point for a potential network
 Determine immediate needs for development of the sector
 Propose potential steering group/partner members for ongoing programme of work
 Identify further sources of funding and support

Bring together strong and leading partnership
Developing the local food sector should be the joint responsibility of all stakeholders. We believe that a formal partnership is the best way to co-ordinate and support each others’ interests. A partnership agreement will be drawn up that defines roles: co-ordinator, steering group/partners, project participants, project groups, who pays what and when. See appendix below.

Appoint a steering group
The Steering Group should represent the range of stakeholder interest in local food, e.g. economic regeneration, health, social enterprise, education/vocational training, farming and wildlife
The Steering Group will be responsible for fund-raising, co-ordinating policy of other agencies, developing the local food sector by setting up practical projects, building on existing initiatives and making links between organisations that can benefit from cooperation. This work could be done by volunteers or by a paid worker (see below)

Ongoing workshops
f3 can organise and run a number of workshops which allow participants to network, share expertise, write a strategy and identify and develop specialist project groups. These require careful facilitation and will benefit from local food expertise. Depending on needs and resources, workshops would cover these areas:
1) Where we are now? (problems, resources)
2) Where do we want to be? (e.g. an informed public, participating retailers and caterers, efficient local distribution, community-owned enterprises)
3) Prioritising (according to level of control and impact on local food sector)
4) How are we going to get there? Setting objectives and agree actions (determine practical needs)
5) How to develop local food enterprises – public sector procurement, community supported agriculture (CSA), food buying groups, local branding initiatives etc

Outcomes

A local strategy and a business/project plan
The outcomes of the workshops form the basis of a strategy and business/project plan that will have been developed in full participation with stakeholders vital to successful implementation

Enterprise support
The ultimate objective is to enable the development of sustainable local food businesses. A dedicated local food worker could provide support to these enterprises. Services may include compiling local food directory, training, enterprise support and network development etc. The local group needs to consider how this work will be resourced.

An implementing body
A local food organisation provides a co-ordinating role in implementing the local food strategy. They are the hub of an active and able network, a democratic structure advised and guided by a steering group –made up of representatives of the development partnership. f3’s experience is that it is important to simplify local food networks so that voluntary resources are channelled through a single channel supporting several projects. This central resource can then support other projects to grow. The central organisation needs a strategy that is regularly reviewed. This implementing body could employ the local food worker post outlined above.

A Local Food Network
One of the most valuable outcomes of a facilitated process such as that proposed, is a network. By participation and exchange we build up an informed body, with new connections and relationships. One way of facilitating this communication is to set up an e-forum for participants to publicise offers and needs.

Funding proposals
f3’s role may be to help access funding for new local food projects and initiatives through partnerships with business, through County Councils or RDAs.

New local food projects
Through this process the need for new local food projects will be identified. Likely new projects include Community Supported Agriculture projects, Food Co-ops, Food Hubs, communal allotment projects and new projects that have not been tried elsewhere before. In our experience this facilitated process identifies where there is a need and demand for local food projects. f3 associates have experience of setting up such projects. Our work helps to inspire participants, involve partners and help communities deliver projects that reduce food miles and support local economies.

Timescales

Depending on issues such as whether there is a well-established local food interest group or Transition Town food group in the area prior to the start of the project, each project should take between one month and two years to complete. For example we could support an existing Transition Town to run a one-off workshop to gauge local interest in a community supported agriculture project; we could also facilitate the whole process of writing a local food strategy document that could take up to 2 years.

Project management

The overall project will be managed by f3, whose support will be guided by the project strategic partnerships. f3 will oversee the allocation of funds from the project and publish regular progress reports. f3 could be paid a fixed project management fee for each local project or an hourly rate for its input to each project. One option is to fix the overall project management and pilot management costs, but then have fixed day rates for any expert inputs after that. f3 can give an estimate of a typical number of days needed (recognising that some projects and some communities need more facilitation than others).

Piloting

The project will start with a series of pilot projects, which will be carefully evaluated. 15 local food interest groups are exploring possible ways of working with this project. We are now asking these groups to approach their local authorities to confirm that there is support for the concept at that level. The pilot groups will be selected from the groups with the most supportive local authorities.

Once we have received funding for the above process and carried it out with these pilot groups, there will be a detailed review of these projects to adjust the process before rolling out future projects.

Next steps

To explore becoming one of the pilot projects or for more detail contact nick.weir@localfood.org.uk or phone Nick on 01453 840037

What is f3?
f3 provides specialist research and consultancy services to organisations and enterprises involved in local and sustainable food initiatives.

Our work includes strategic planning, research, feasibility studies and business planning, training for producers and support organisations, and the facilitation of collaborative approaches.

f3 is a Community Interest Company. It has a co-operative structure, comprising leading experts with UK and international experience. Our members are all personally committed and involved in real projects, ranging from directing food links organisations and setting up community supported agriculture projects to running an organic vineyard.

Our clients include government departments and agencies, regional development agencies, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, food & drink businesses, social enterprises and voluntary sector groups.

We have been established since 1999 and have carried out more than 140 projects in this field. We have an excellent network of partner organisations, send our email newsletter to over 1000 people, and are well connected in all parts of the food chain. F3’s experience includes setting up farmers’ markets, CSA projects and other projects to build capacity to provide food locally.

Contributing members

Greg Pilley
Greg’s background is in ecology and applying ecological principles to agriculture: Linking ecology, socio-economics and culture to sustain agricultural production, farming communities and the environment.

Greg worked with the Soil Association for 5 years principally as project Co-ordinator for the Cultivating Communities project which promoted and supported the development of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) across the UK before going on to establish Action Organic a new project supporting the development of a network of local organic groups.

Greg now works on a freelance basis broadly in the realm of local food and social enterprise.

He is an active member of Stroud Community Agriculture Ltd, a Community Co-operative which runs its own farm business, managed a national project enabling Community Farm Land Trusts, sits on the Gloucestershire Food and Drink Advisory group and runs his own business – Stroud Brewery.

Greg is part of the Transition Stroud food group.

Nick Weir

Following 5 years on the voluntary management group of Stroud Community Agriculture, Nick helped to set up Stroud’s second CSA project, which is a farm-led project based on 100 acres producing vegetables, firewood, lamb, beef and eggs.

Nick is also part of a communal allotment group, Stroud Food Co-op (a consumer buying group) and is now working to set up Stroud Food Hub, which is a co-op made up of both producer members and consumer members using a school as a regular drop-off point for local food and drink produce.

Nick was one of the founder members of Transition Stroud and is actively involved in the Transition Stroud food group. His paid work is as a freelance facilitator – mainly with groups involved in local food.

Alec Duthie

With many years experience as a registered organic grower with his own retail and wholesale business and as a permaculture designer and teacher Alec was the founder of Leicestershire Food Links and one of the founders of Food Links UK.

He spent many years working with farmers in Leicestershire and the midlands encouraging and supporting them to produce high quality fresh food for local markets. He has established and managed twelve farmers’ markets throughout the Midlands and advised on many more.

As an f3 consultant Alec has worked on a wide variety of sustainable food projects. He is actively involved in Transition Leicester.

Alec, Nick and Greg are all associate directors of f3 and will be supported by other f3 members in other UK regions. This includes:

 Simon Michaels – director of f3 and principal author of many of f3’s local food strategies, including three pilots for the former Countryside Agency to link local food initiatives with the conservation of landscape distinctiveness. Simon is also a director of RCMA Social Enterprise, an organisation in Cardiff which has developed a range of community food and health initiatives, including a plan for a community-owned market garden to start in 2009.

 Kathy Merrett – supply chain expert with direct experience of enabling local produce supplies for school meals

 James Pavitt – extensive experience with farmers markets, box schemes and small scale production

Examples of work carried out by Greg, Alec and Nick

County/Regional planning
 Wiltshire Local Food Strategy – Strategy document for partnership development and action planning
 Devon County Council – Action plan for increasing procurement of local produce in schools, colleges, hospitals, care homes, etc.

Town, locality and parish planning
 Food People, Place – For Countryside Agency, developing parish level action plans working with community groups across the UK

Enterprise participatory planning
 Community Supported Agriculture – Community led local food enterprise e.g. Stroud Community Agriculture, Stroud Slad Farm Community, Exeter CSA, Penwith CSA, Wolsingham CSA, Edinburgh Food Chain, Fordhall Farm, Stroudco Food Hub
 Food Buying Groups and Co-operatives – Business planning and support

Next steps

To explore becoming one of the pilot projects or for more detail contact nick.weir@localfood.org.uk or phone Nick on 01453 840037

Appendix: Draft agreement

Developing Sustainable
District Food Strategies

A process to enable communities to develop sustainable food systems
which are less reliant on oil and other external inputs.

DRAFT agreement between;
- xx Local Authoritity,
- yy local food interest group,
- and f3

This is a very early draft agreement. We expect to adapt it carefully to suit local needs and expectations.

Agreement to run *Project Name* in ……………………………….………..… (area)

___________________________________________________________________

Agreement between lead organisation (local authority or Transition group)………………………………………..…….. and f3, *Project Name*.

Contacts at f3: Nick Weir nick.weir@localfood.org.uk
Greg Pilley greg.pilley@localfood.org.uk
Alec Duthie alec.duthie@localfood.org.uk

PO Box 1234
Bristol
BS99 2PG

Contact at lead organisation: ……………………………………………..…… (name)
………………………………………………….. (address)
………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………..

Contact at local authority: ………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..
(address) ………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..

Contact at Transition group: ………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..
(address) ………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………..

*Project Name* is an XX month partnership programme towards developing a sustainable local food economy.

Tangible outcomes:
• A collectively designed strategy for the ongoing development of a sustainable local food economy for implementation beyond the XX month programme.
• Evaluation report of the programme
• A partnership forum to continue work on developing a local food economy
• At least X new local food initiatives

f3, *Project Name* will provide:
(To be agreed in developmental discussions)

• Design and delivery of a launch event, with partners
• Design and delivery of XX workshops, with local co-ordinator and steering group
• Participate in a debriefing session after each workshop jointly with the local co-ordinator, which will generate information for progress reports and newsletters.
• 2 free places at the XX f3 local food conference
• A total of 5-20 days of external expertise/ facilitation at workshops and for new initiatives (depending on cost)
• Travel expenses and accommodation for f3 advisers up to £xxxx
• New initiative start up costs up to £xx, to be locally administered
• Workshop materials up to £xx
• Refreshments for launch up to £xx
• Up to 3 initial planning meetings with steering group
• Assistance with selecting participants
• Support through the xx months from f3, *Project Name*
• Subscription to Local Food News
• A project evaluation (see below)
• Publication of a strategy and evaluation report with local co-ordinator

Contributions from lead organisation:

£2,000 OR AS AGREED (plus VAT which Local Authorities can reclaim) to be paid to f3 over xx months, towards the *Project Name* costs. This will by paid by the lead organisation in the following instalments:

1. DATE AMOUNT 4. DATE AMOUNT
…./…../….. £ ….……..….. ..…/…../….. £ ………………

2. DATE AMOUNT 5. DATE AMOUNT
..…/…../….. £ ….……..….. ..…/…../….. £ ….……..…..

3. DATE AMOUNT 6. DATE AMOUNT
..…/…../….. £ ….……..….. ..…/…../….. £ ….……..…..

AND the lead organisation will be responsible for arranging with partners:
TO REVIEW!!

• Childcare and travel expenses for workshop participants according to local policy
• Support for at least 3 food projects arising from the workshops (exceeding the £xxx contribution from *Project Name*).
• Suitable venues for running the workshops
• Catering for the workshops and launch, preferably locally sourced
• Travel, accommodation and expenses for f3 workers and experts (exceeding the £xxx contribution from *Project Name*).)

ALSO,

……………………………………………………………….. (organisation)

will provide a Local co-ordinator to work closely with f3, *Project Name*).

……………………………………………………………….. (name)
……………………………………………………………….. (address)
………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………..
Local co-ordination tasks include :

• Networking and publicity
• Identifying and involving local stakeholders
• Involving representatives from disadvantaged communities
• Involving representatives from ethnic minority communities
• Media work
• Producing a newsletter
• Steering the process
• Encouraging and supporting action groups
• Helping to plan, run and evaluate workshops
• Working with f3 on reports
• Setting up a local steering group if appropriate
• Organising workshops
• Arranging venues and food
• Sending out invitations
• Bookings
• Mailings; typing, photocopying, etc
• Funding applications
• Committee reports where needed for Local Authority
• Planning and debriefing for workshops
• Anything else?

Monitoring and evaluation

f3 has an established procedure used to evaluate a similar project it carried out in 2006 for the Countryside Agency called Food, People, Place. We will adapt this evaluation procedure to suit all partner organisations.
The results of the evaluation will be made available to the local co-ordinator. f3 will arrange for participants to evaluate each workshop and for a debriefing session after each workshop with the local co-ordinator.

Signed by ……………………………….…………….…

……………………………….…………….…

……………………………….…………….…

Date ……………………………….…………….…
Signed by: ……………………………………………………………………………
(name) ……………………………………………………………………………
…………………….……………………………………..…
(address) ………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………

……………………………………..………………….…… (signature)

Date: ………………………………………………………………
Financial contributions from other partners – if other partners are involved eg Local Health authority, Education, PCT, etc

The lead organisation (not f3) will receive financial contributions towards *Project Name*). as follows

Organisation………………………………………………………………………………….

date amount date amount date amount date amount

…./.… £……….. .…/.… £……….. .…/…. £……….. …./.… £………..

Contact at (organisation)…………………………………………(name)…………………….…………(address)………

……………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………

……………..………………………………………………

……………………………………………………….(signature)

Organisation………………………………………………………………………………….

date amount date amount date amount date amount

…./.… £……….. .…/.… £……….. .…/…. £……….. …./.… £………..

Contact at (organisation)…………………………………………(name)…………………….…………(address)………
……………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………
……………..………………………………………………
……………………………………………………….(signature)

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