A key part of the Food Equality strand of Going for Gold is ensuring that the people growing and producing our food receive a fair income. Steph Wetherell, the coordinator for Bristol Food Producers, writes in this blog post about how buying direct boosts the local economy and contributes to creating a fair and sustainable local food system.
Bristol has an abundance of local farmers and producers; both in the city but also in the surrounding rural area. But when you live in the city, it’s easy to feel disconnected from where your food comes from or the people producing it.
Bristol Food Producers was set up in 2015 to help increase the amount of food being produced in and around the city. It is a network of more than 100 local farmers, producers, retailers, restaurants, distributors and supporters who are all working together create a stronger local food system in the city. It’s not easy making a living as a farmer, but by collaborating on issues such as access to land, markets and training, we believe we can better address some of the challenges that we face.
One of our focuses is to support routes to market for local farmers and make it easier for individuals and businesses to buy from local farmers and growers – one of the Going for Gold actions. When you buy direct from a farmer or through independent retailers, you are:
- Making sure that as much of your pound as possible ends up in the pocket of the person who grew, raised and produced the food, helping support them to run a viable and sustainable business.
- Connecting with where your food comes from – you know the person or people on the other end of that transaction, can ask them questions and understand how your food is being produced.
- Helping to keep that money in the local economy and recirculating within the city, rather than benefiting a national or international corporation.
There’s a number of different ways you can buy locally in Bristol. We have an abundance of farms offering local veg boxes or shares, such as The Community Farm and Sims Hill CSA, independent retailers such as Better Food and Source that stock an assortment of local produce, online shopping from farmers through fresh-range, as well as regular farmers markets at St Nicks, Whiteladies Road and Tobacco Factory.
In the run-up to Christmas, here are some easy ways to buy local over the festive period:
- Better meat. Buy direct from a farm or check out your local butcher or independent retailer – ask which farms they buy from and opt for a ‘less and better’ approach by reducing quantity but sourcing higher welfare meat.
- Buy local veg. Many farms offer Christmas specific veg boxes that are packed full of traditional favourites rather than battling the supermarket scrum.
- A Bristol tipple. Bristol has some great local breweries and distilleries, so why not localise your drinks over the festive period?
- A present with a difference. From mushroom growing kits to chutney, chilli sauce to Bristol honey, there are an abundance of delicious and consumable products to give the loved ones in your life.
- Don’t forget the trimmings. Whether it’s mince pies or the cheese board of dreams, why not order from a local bakery or cheesemonger this year?
Steph Wetherell is coordinator for Bristol Food Producers, a network of local farmers, producers, retailers, restaurants, distributors and supporters, all working to increase the production and supply of local food in Bristol.