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LACA Member celebrates new sustainable food partnership in Plymouth
28/02/2011 - 23:00

The Soil Association and the Barefoot Partnership have been awarded a joint contract by SWFD for a DSFC project focusing on Public Sector Food Procurement in Plymouth, to be completed by 31 March 2011. This is an exciting opportunity to deliver some real benefit to the city and its surrounding area and help attract additional resources in the future. It is the result of a recent tendering process for 9 reduced carbon impact food supply chain projects, with the principal aim of increasing the supply of locally produced food and drink into one of the region’s major urban centres .

The two organizations have experience of working in Plymouth and recently collaborated in a series of Plymouth Food Workshops. The purpose of these was to inform and support the Soil Association's Lottery Bid for a 3 year 'Sustainable Food City: Plymouth' project, which is planned to start from January 2011. In addition, the Soil Association has been involved in Plymouth Schools since 2007 via it's Food for Life Programme (FFLP). The Barefoot Partnership facilitated a Sustainable Food Initiative for the University of Plymouth in 2009.

A city wide, cross sector stakeholder group has been formed from these food workshops to help drive and steer the delivery of this partnership programme. The group will also help to develop and implement a Plymouth Food Charter and Sustainable Food Strategy and Action Plan.

The underlying idea for the Plymouth Food Procurement Project is to strengthen the connection between the recently formed Plymouth Procurement Forum and the rich range of local food producers and processors to enable more local food to be supplied through the public sector. The project aims to
•    Respond to regional, national and international issues of climate change, food security, health and sustainability
•    Increase the commercial viability, sustainability and success of local and regional food businesses including producers and processors
•    Build on partnership work already being developed in Plymouth by the Soil Association and the Barefoot Partnership
•    Work with other existing and potential funding streams and stakeholders to help create and build a truly sustainable food city.

The project will deliver a combination of research, workshops and practical supply development work, more specifically:
1)    A Procurement Review – looking at what major public sector buyers currently buy, what their requirements are, how much is purchased from local suppliers, what issues and obstacles there might be for greater local supply and where the best opportunities would be for achieving progress. This work will lead up to a buyers workshop on Tuesday November 2nd.
2)    Workshop for buyers and suppliers – to demystify supplying the public sector and enable communication on problems and opportunities between public sector purchasers and local food producers and processors – Wed November 17th
3)    3 practical supply development projects to work on opportunities identified in the procurement review (Nov – March 2011). These could be based on individual food sectors or other areas (eg. distribution) which could benefit from applied research and expertise.
4)    Workshop for buyers and suppliers – to better understand the wider sustainability benefits of local food procurement and practical ways by which to achieve this – 18 January 2011
5)    Urban Centres Research Project – to identify the extent of Public Sector Collaboration on Procurement in the other major urban centres of the region and the degree and nature of involvement of the local food supply chains. The results of this work will establish how best to write up and use the experience of the Plymouth project elsewhere in the region.
6)    End of Project workshop – involving all major stakeholders – to consider the conclusions of the project and agree recommendations for action. 22nd March 2011 has been penciled in for this – to be confirmed.

What do we need to achieve this?
In order to achieve these ambitious project outcomes, within the timeframe available, the project team needs to draw on the expertise and ideas of the Plymouth Procurement Forum and other local stakeholders. We will shortly be contacting Forum members to find out more about the current situation, and to better understand the challenges and opportunities for increased local food procurement in Plymouth, we would really appreciate your co-operation in this process. Alternatively please do contact Traci Lewis or Peter Redstone with any questions or comments you may have.

To see how you can get involved and find out more visit www.foodplymouth.org  or email Traci Lewis at info@foodplymouth.org