With summer seeming to have arrived at last and with crops growing apace in fields, allotments and back gardens it is a good time to think about our local food production. How much of what you eat is produced locally – supporting our local Gloucestershire economy and keeping food miles to a minimum? Buying local food and drink means that more of the money we spend circulates in the local economy – as local farmers re-spend some of the money on local goods and services and in employing local workers.
We are fortunate in having a range of local outlets that support local farming – the Stroud Farmers Market is known and supported by many people. Less well known is STROUDCO Food Hub which enables local consumers to buy on-line from a whole range of small-scale, local, artisan producers – delivering a ‘farmers market in a box’ to a pick-up point in Stroud or Nailsworth or delivered to your door at a remarkably competitive price. This is a great way to get access to a range of great produce at a reasonable cost and help local producers at the same time. Another great local project is Stroud’s Community Agriculture – in which consumers cooperatively support the farmers in exchange for a share in the produce – it also gives members a chance to learn about farming and to help-out at key times.
With climate change making our climate less predictable we need to support our local food production. Of course we can’t produce locally all the range of produce we have become used to – but we can produce more than we do at the moment. This can make us less dependent on unpredictable imports, cut down our carbon footprint and make us healthier – not a bad start! This means eating more of what is in season at any time – currently I have a glut of rhubarb at the moment – anyone have an unusual way of preparing it?
Green councillors have encouraged Stroud District Council to support local food production and it has set some money aside to support new and innovative local food projects. Transition Stroud is also looking at ways of supporting local food – so if you are interested in getting involved please get in touch.
Here are some of the links to the organisations and projects mentioned:
Stroud farmers market - www.fresh-n-local.co.uk/markets/stroud.php
STROUDCO - www.stroudco.org.uk
Transition Stroud - www.transitionstroud.org
Stroud Community Agriculture - http://www.stroudcommunityagriculture.org
Martin Whiteside is Green Party District Councillor for Brimscombe and Thrupp. Professionally he advises agencies like Oxfam and the United Nations on agricultural and environmental programmes in Africa and Asia. Back in the UK he is keen that we too should produce as much locally as possible.