Marches Grow Local

How can we create a local resilient food network across the Marches?

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Growing a local food network

It’s not easy knowing what the best thing to do is in these difficult times, but we’ve been talking to other local organisations and people about what would be useful in a Covid-19 world, and this is what has come about…

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 available to view below.

While Devon and Shropshire are clearly not identical, there is much to be learned from this and other schemes. 

We are currently in the exploration phase of this project to see if there’s a need and the demand to 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, so if that’s you, please get in touch

(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.)

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Articles of interest

Here are a few articles we’ve read recently relating to the subject:

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