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Home > Initiative

Do you want to set up a local food initiative?

There are many forms of local food initiative and the Making Local Food Work programme is developing and supporting the following six models:

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) approach is based on mutual support between farmers and consumers in which people are investing in their local farm in return for a share of the harvest. As well as reconnecting people with the land and their food, it can give farmers and food growers a secure income and also helps to create a sense of community. The Soil Association is providing training, advice and support, case studies and technical information to those looking to develop a local CSA scheme.

Food Co-ops and Buying Groups are schemes in which, by buying food in bulk direct from suppliers, groups such as residents associations, community groups or parents at a local school can benefit by getting good food at a more affordable price. Sustain, in partnership with several other organisations, is developing a range of resources, such as toolkits, educational leaflets and marketing materials, to help food co-ops start up or build on their successes. Sustain will also organise various events to enable groups around the country to share good ideas on what works to create flourishing food co-ops.

Distribution costs can be a major barrier to the sale of local food, and so Sustain is working with local Food Distribution and Supply projects in urban and rural locations around England, to increase and improve the supply of fresh, seasonal produce. These can include providing local food for school meals, or running a fruit and veg delivery service. Learning from these projects, Sustain will also publish advice and guidance on the best ways community enterprises can tackle distribution issues. This will be based on research into existing projects throughout the country, with many opportunities for sharing and learning from good ideas.

For the past ten years, farmers’ markets have been bringing producers and customers together on a regular basis. The Farmers' Market project aims to provide direct support to help farmers' markets to collaborate to bring fresh local food to more customers in more locations throughout England. The project draws on the skills and experience of two key national players -  Plunkett and the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA). The support package will help to make the most of markets to ensure that they survive and thrive.

Sustainable Home-Produced Food: Members of Country Markets Ltd sell their high quality home-made,  home-baked or home-grown produce  directly to the public  at approximately 450 weekly co-operatively run Country Markets, and at farmers’ markets and  special events. By working with producers and advisers, providing toolkits and training, the aim of this project is to develop a market for selling their produce through community-focused shops and other retail outlets throughout the country.

Local shops are often the heart of the community and the Community Shops & Local Food project aims to help community-run and traditional independent shops to stock and sell more locally produced food, thereby also creating valuable retail outlets for small-scale producers. The Plunkett Foundation will offer a toolkit backed up by expert support on everything from building relationships with producers, to merchandising, storage and marketing.


The programme can also offer support to all the different food-based community groups in the following areas:

Good Governance is essential to the long-term viability of community enterprises. Co-operativesUK are working to ensure that groups adopt sound legal and organisational structures. Using training programmes, a website, a helpline and other resources, they will foster a strong understanding of governance and legal structures among community enterprises.

The Plunkett Foundation and Co-operativesUK are also offering Specialist Community Enterprise Support in the form of specialised consultants, who will provide targeted advice and mentoring to community enterprises.

Local Food Webs are networks of producers, processors, distributors and retailers, which are vital to the local economy, community and environment. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), with support from Sustain, will equip and help communities across England to map their local food web and to use the findings to influence policy locally, regionally and nationally.

It is vital to understand what difference our work makes to the communities we are supporting, and to share our learning. Plunkett is leading and assisting other projects in the sharing of Information, the Communication of our findings and good practice, and the Evaluation of just what Making Local Food Work is achieving.


Making Local Food Work has a broad social and economic reach and will benefit producers, consumers and the environment for generations to come.


How you can get involved…
If you're interested in starting up your own food-based community enterprise or are looking for support for one you're already running, have a look at our project pages or contact us for further information.



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