Local Food Webs are often complex and dynamic, but there’s great value in seeing how they’re connected.
How can we visualise the interconnection of our local food economies, gain greater support from local government, and catalyse more community resilience & trade?
If you want to learn more about the value of local food webs, you can download the full report from Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) which details their 5 year study into 19 projects in the UK.
The key findings cover economic, social, environmental & cultural aspects of local food webs and include:
- Local Food is a key driver for local economies, which is at threat from industrial supermarket growth.
- Local Food webs contribute to the strength of smaller outlets, maintaining the attraction of town centres through local food and contributing towards their diversity, character and the community
- Providing channels to market for new and micro, small and medium- sized businesses, supporting producer businesses and enabling farming to remain diverse and varied in production and outputs including values supported by consumers such as freshness, provenance and seasonality
- Encouraging engagement of consumers with food and, through the human scale and connection within local food networks, enabling shoppers to understand the realities, challenges and impacts of food production and to choose to make a difference individually and collectively.
- Enabling sustainable & regenerative agricultural practices, and encouraging diversity in our food system.
- Building community and a rich culture around a central premise – food.
We particularly appreciate the aspect that Local Food is a concept – not a certification or label.
“The concept goes beyond that of a supply chain to look at the retail system, and food’s wider impact on the quality of places, the environment and community life in both urban and rural areas.”
Whilst the research being heavily UK-focused, we believe that many people from different nations will benefit from reading this research, and using the associated Mapping guide. It has resonance here in New Zealand, and from all the people we’ve been speaking to around North America, Europe, Australia, The Pacific & Asia – we believe it will strike a chord there too.
This research was done by CPRE, but they’ve also released a Toolkit to help with local food web mapping in your area. You can take a look and download it for free.
As we mentioned earlier, there is also another element to any of these sorts of projects – networks are dynamic. Whilst the initial mapping project gives insights into the current state of play, it’s key to keep track of the evolutionary nature of a network/web, to continue to gain from these insights.
We’re very excited by a project by some friends in the UK called Sustaination, which aims to do just that – map the dynamic nature of food webs – kind of like a Linkedin for Local Food. You can check out the project here – Sustaination : Local Food Everywhere – sign up for a profile today, and encourage other friends in your local food web to do the same, and start benefitting from the power of visualising your connections.
It’s a great example of how Technology can continue to support the fantastic work at the grassroots of the local food movement.
So, what are you waiting for? Get mapping today!