Mapping Local Food Webs : Guide to Getting Started

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?

 

Bucky Box brings you CPRE's guide to mapping food webs

 

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!

Tips for Local Food #2 : Call on Existing Resources & Support – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

As part of our series on Top Tips for Local Food Distribution, we’re diving a little deeper into each of the 5 tips we gave. This week is ‘Call on Existing Resources & Support’ – Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. You can also check out ‘#1 : Get Social – a guide to new media for local food‘.

 

Bucky Box helps connect you to existing resources & support for local food enterprise

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

 

Have you created your dream job, only to find that despite offering quality local produce from farmers who care – customers are slow to jump aboard? Or are you a startup veg box scheme which needs a pointer in the right direction to get the wheels rolling?

 

Whatever your challenge, someone, somewhere is likely to have already faced it.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you have access to a remarkable amount of knowledge from around the world, when it comes to local food systems.  Hard to find the right bit? Well Bucky Box is here to help.

 

Resources & Courses

 

There’s some great online and downloadable resources which can help you step through the early stages of set up – call them cheat sheets;

Networks & Communities of Practice

 

Connecting with people & projects of interest is vital to continuing to keep your finger on the pulse of what works, as well as what new opportunities may be around the corner. Check out some of these online & offline networks:

 

Support from Government & Charity

 

There’s some admirable work being done around the world by several governments in an effort to rejuvenate local food systems, here’s some of the programs which we’ve seen which might be able to offer you some help:

We will also take the opportunity for a specific focus on funding in the next Top Tips blog, but you can check out the National Good Food Network webinar in the meantime.

 

Technology

 

Mapping, Consumer Apps, Back End Systems, Traceability, and much much more is coming.  Here’s a run down of a couple which might be useful to local food schemes looking to make their job easier;

There’s many more examples of technology which would enable your local food business springing up all the time, so keep tuned on the above channels (and here!) for more examples.  You can also check out our blog about ‘Getting Social’ – tips for local food businesses using social media.

 

By no means is this an exhaustive list, so we’d love your feedback for other resources, networks, support & technology we should be adding too! Drop us a note below in the comments.

 

Thanks to Jenny Huston for support in the Resources section & Kirsten Larsen for tips on Australian Government Support!