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CPRE - Food Webs and Mapping

 What are local food webs?

A food web is made up of the links between farmers and growers, processors, suppliers, local food shops and other providers like farmers’ markets, veg box schemes, community supported agriculture projects and food co-operatives, through to consumers.

Local food webs are essential to the character and attractiveness of towns and countryside across England. With around 50p in every £1 we spend in shops spent on food, it is a tremendous opportunity for businesses, from farms to retailers of all sizes, to engage shoppers in making a difference to the quality of their local area.

 

What did we do?

Local food offers a great opportunity to support vibrant town centres and countryside, but is challenged by the growth of superstores dominating our food shopping and undermining and damaging our local food networks into the future.

In mapping local food webs as part of Making Local Food Work, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) hoped to measure the fantastic contributions these networks make. We achieved just that, finding great examples of local food webs helping to buck national trends of high street decline.

As part of the project we:
• Created an action pack for volunteers to explore their local food web
• Ran workshops across England with a diverse range of people to debate local food issues
• Supported volunteers to produce case study reports of food webs from each region

The project also undertook a major piece of research – From Field to Fork – into  local food webs, producing national reports which drew together findings from across the regions of England to understand the benefits that local food networks bring to both urban and rural areas.

What impact did the project have?

The overarching aims of the research were to make local food webs more visible and better understood – to put them literally on the map – and make clear their ability collectively to make a difference. In so doing, we argue that local food networks need sustained support from individuals, the community, business and policymakers locally and nationally. 

The research is already being used by CPRE directly to encourage Government and national policy makers to take action to support food webs and, via the media, to engage local communities, local businesses and local authorities at a local level.

The media campaign reached millions of people via high profile outlets like Radio 4’s You and Yours and the Today programme, national outlets like BBC News and the Independent, and regional newspapers like the Yorkshire Post and Western Morning News. On 12th June 2012, a parliamentary reception was held to launch the report at Portcullis House, Westminster. The evening was hosted by Jenny Chapman, MP for Darlington, who spoke about local food in her constituency and highlighted headline findings from the report. This launch led to further meetings with MPs, Peers and parliamentary researchers.

Following the research launch further events were held with communities across England, launching new support websites such as the Transition Town Shrewsbury site www.shrewsbury-buylocal.co.uk, assisting in setting up new projects and support groups and launching a national mapping tool for all to use to map their local food web.

Be inspired

Have a look at some of the food webs captured in the major research and national reports online here.

You can also download the reports from our resources page, or use our tool to map your own local food web. 

 



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