As part of Sustainable Food City (SFC) Lancaster’s work, we offer a range of ‘services’ to support local food initiatives. These aim to create a supportive local food network which raises awareness of local food businesses and community projects and, with time, grows our local sustainable food economy and culture.
These services are varied and include an online local food directory that showcases local food businesses and community food projects. Our weekly column in the Lancaster Guardian creates a space for a range of local food stakeholders to discuss different aspects of a resilient food system. These stories are then shared on this blog and via our social media pages (@foodoflancaster).
We run seasonal food and craft markets to raise the profile of local food businesses and community food projects. We have also organized a range of other events to support this work, including a ‘Faces Behind Our Food’ photography exhibition, film screenings, talks and food festivals.
On top of this, we have created a forum that brings people from across the food system together to dream of and work towards the sustainable food future they strive for. Working groups have been created around the following themes: creating a sustainable local food economy and transforming local food procurement; food access and poverty; reducing the ecological footprint of our food system; community food skills and food & health. And from these working groups, projects have emerged. A FarmStart organic growers support course is being developed for 2019, we have secured funding for an internship to support market traders in reducing their environmental impacts. We have also partnered on an N8 project to scope the barriers our local keystone institutions face when procuring local and sustainable food.
A number of local food businesses have made the most of our support network, including Cockerham Boers. When asked why, Sharon of Cockerham Boers commented:
“Raising awareness about the need for more sustainable and resilient food systems with consumers is very difficult for the small producer who stands alone. It is therefore vital that there are support groups who can help small businesses get this sort of message across. Umbrella groups of like minded and determined people such as LESS and Sustainable Food City Lancaster are a vital link between producers and consumers and I would highly recommend that passionate small producers get involved in their local groups and networks. It is also vital for each small producer to support other local producers within their areas as these networks are the best way forward for the future of sustainable food production.”