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Local Food Hub initiative

Marches - growing a local food network

In the heart of lockdown, the growing season is nonetheless in full swing. Feeding ourselves with high quality local food has always been a priority with many people tending thriving vegetable, salad and fruit plots, while others produce honey, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy produce and beef for the local market.  

But there’s always room to do more, and as Africa sees its fourth plague of locusts, India has almost stopped growing, Italy has a plague of wild boar eating the harvest (yes, really!) and our market gardeners are struggling to plant and harvest, it seems likely that feeding ourselves locally is going to become an increasing need in the post-viral world.

With this in mind, a group of us invited Simon Platten of Tamar Grow Local community agriculture project in Devon to give a Zoom Seminar in early May.  Simon’s tale of a decade spent supporting a thriving ecosystem of small and large producers, from allotment growers through local market gardeners, to dairy farms with fifty staff, was inspiring.  Amongst other things TGL provides food boxes for the food deserts of local Plymouth, offers ‘farm start’ projects with help for local people who want to spend some of their time growing, and creates a healthy ecosystem with a central computerised hub for sales. 

As with the growers in Shropshire, the lockdown saw TGL's sales skyrocket so they reached capacity within hours and are now closing their sales hub 45 minutes after opening - with priorities for vulnerable people and key workers.  Their delivery squad of volunteers now includes the local professional basketball team! (They are hoping to begin to pay them soon.) If you didn’t see the original seminar and are interested, it’s up on YouTube here.

While Devon and Shropshire are clearly not identical, there is much to be learned from this and other schemes and a group of us are meeting (virtually, on Zoom) to brainstorm ideas and to find ways we can help join up the people with spare land with those who want to grow (or keep bees, or help others), with those who can teach best practice that will enhance our soil and increase biodiversity while also helping to sequester carbon, all in the aim of producing good, nutritious local food.  We will need administrators and people who want to run food hubs, plus - crucially - those who are good with spreadsheets! 

(NB: The absolute key to this is that whatever we create is there to support existing local producers and help others who want to become producers to do so.  If you’re already producing, please come along.)

A Brainstorming Zoom meeting was held on 20th May.  If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in, please do sign up to our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/g2JdWr

Or contact Manda Scott (manda@mandascott.co.uk) or Lizzie Hulton-Harrop (liz.hultonharrop@gmail.com) for more details.  

Published by Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership on (modified )