Local food hub

Local food hub – how it could get started

Three local organisations with an interest in improving access to local food would like to work with other interested local partners to develop the idea of a ‘local food hub’: a place where local people can get quality local organic produce, be informed about food nutrition and food growing, receive training, run a café and be involved in micro-processing enterprises.

To get this off the ground, the proposal is to start running a weekly organic market stall and support a number of local food co-ops from a base at the Hornbeam Environmental Centre. The centre already runs a Saturday café, and once the stall has been successfully established we can build up the provision of information and training, or use of the community kitchen for micro-processing.

As well as local produce (eg. allotment surplus), the stall would be supplied by Eostre in Norfolk to ensure a good range and regular supply of organic produce, which can also be provided at cost price to local food co-ops, using the Hornbeam as a pick-up point.


Weekly Saturday stall outside Hornbeam (rented space).

Oestre deliver 8.30am on the day and collect unsold stuff.

Food co-ops supplied by same delivery.

Two paid people 9am-4pm (trained by Oestre, could be a wider pool of people but ideally at least one person each week doing the full day)

Publicity work also paid

Break even is £500 – (therefore need to establish food co-ops at same time)

Decision needed on pricing (to generate income?)

Build information-giving / workshop side

Oestre could also supply produce for processing enthusiasts (and food hygiene training) and take back processed products


Publicity (combined with food festival) through summer and development of food coops, to start with a bang on 2nd Sept

Or if momentum gathers, start before the summer to build up customer base gradually??


Can be a coalition of organisations, at least initially, rather than setting up a new organisation, but needs:

Decision about how other organisations/co-op shareholders etc are involved

Formal agreement of roles, who paid people are employed by etc.

Steering group

Decisions about funding

Get SPAN support for this


Next steps

  1. Food co-ops: Clare and Alex to contact interested parties, explain plans (pre-meeting if necessary), assess interest of each group and how they could fund it. Propose workshop on running a co-op in mid-June with Josiah.
  2. Warehouse space: Brian and Josiah sorting
  3. Organisation/structure: Clare to follow up with SPAN re paying for advice/draft documentation, needs someone familiar with co-op structures, Josiah to give suggestions
  4. Micro-processing: anyone who knows interested parties to sound them out on possibilities (eg. using Hornbeam kitchen and Oestre produce)
  5. Think about what funds are needed to pump-prime, eg. so that stall workers and publicity could be paid straightaway.


Other notes from the meeting – 20 April 2006 @ Allens Gardens

with Josiah (Eostre), Alex (Hornbeam), Nicole (Naturewise), Brian (FRP/Organiclea), Clare (WEN/Organiclea), Ru (Growing Communities/Organiclea), Claire (Organiclea), Dave (Organiclea), Marlene (Organiclea)

1. visual summary of idea generated at Hornbeam/Organiclea/FRP meeting on 16th March

2. Sharing of thoughts on the ideas discussed in March:


The time feels right

It can happen, not just a pipedream

There’s lots of enthusiasm around

A broad range of stakeholders interested

Lots of positive energy, beyond just the moment of the meeting

SPAN provides impetus and generates wider interest

It’s topical, high public awareness

It pulls together existing elements, not imposing something completely new

It includes a vision of a different way of community organising


Still not clear what it is

How are the wider group of stakeholders involved – and what do they want

Could just too focused on logistics and capacity, or become just another farmers market – losing wider vision

Lots of work – could become an energy drain / require too much commitment

These things are happening anyway, are we just creating a superfluous way of bringing them together, could be creating a ‘frankenstein’

Allotments association chair dismissive..

Interesting – questions/possibilities

Being clear about our role (start-up or long term)  

People who attended Vestry House meeting are keen, but waiting for something more concrete to happen

Food reaches people and relates to other issues

Fear of success

Hornbeam: Green Consortium money possibly available, Joff could put time in

Eostre: potential funding as a research project

3. What organisations are already doing or planning


Potential to provide funding as a research project (draft brief available).

Working with a similar group in Norwich.

Supplying/supporting community market stalls at Freightliners Farm and Sunnyside Gardens in Islington.

Looking to set up warehouse/ base in east London.

Availability of supply in East Anglia for distribution / processing.

Forest Recycling Project

Acquiring new units which can include space for Oestre / potential for different use of space at Bakers Avenue.

Growing Communities

Accumulated experience of box scheme, farmers market, ordering etc to share.


Strategic planning includes trying to increase use of underused building (café, outdoor space, community kitchen).

Development funding available, and voluntary & paid time.

Links with other groups/individuals in borough interested in getting involved.


Courses can generate human resources (eg. LETS style volunteering in lieu of payment)


Site – food surplus

Scrumping project – distribution and processing

Surestart – twice monthly stall June-Dec at 2 community centres, possibly with voucher scheme

Training – once a month on site (also done offsite this year)

Local food festival – 2nd September at Hornbeam


SPAN programme – includes 15 days time for capacity building/set up work.

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