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[lofo List] Scheme helps city residents source finest local produce
Scheme helps city residents source finest local produce
Saturday, September 20, 2008, 23:00
SOURCING fresh, local produce is not always easy.
It usually involves driving to a remote farm shop, between the hours
of 10am and 5pm, when most of us are at work or busy at home.
But that may be set to change, now that a forward-thinking group of
independent Devon producers is bringing a slice of the countryside to
Love Local Food is a not-for-profit scheme set up by the people at
Shillingford Organics, OrganicArts, Emma's Bread and West Town Farm.
On Thursdays and Saturdays, a van stocked with locally grown and
freshly picked vegetables and fruit, organic meat, eggs, dairy
products, drinks, pasta, bread, chocolate, sauces and much more,
traverses the streets of Exeter, stopping at specific points to sell
its mouthwatering array of groceries.
Jo Cotter, who runs Organic Arts, based at West Town Farm, is one of
the founding members of Love Local Food.
She said: "Love Local Food actually stemmed from an idea thought up by
Emma Parkin, of Emma's Bread.
"She wanted to get producers together who were interested in food
because, as a baker, she was feeling isolated and wanted to make
contact with other small producers to see if they could set up a co-
operative to help sell their products.
"We held a meeting at Shillingford Organics and it developed from there.
"We ended up with a core group of five people who really pushed this
idea forward: myself, my colleague Christine Duff, Emma Parkin, Andrew
Bragg and Martin Bragg.
"Eventually we came up with the idea of having a van deliver fresh
produce around Exeter, but the trouble was logistics and financing, so
we applied for a Lottery grant through the Awards for All scheme and
got £10,000 of funding to do this as a three-month trial to see if it
could be viable."
On September 11, the Love Local Food van set off on its first journey
through Exeter, starting from the car park of St Thomas Methodist
Church, in Cowick street, and finishing in Rifford Road, in Wonford —
making five other stops along the way.
"The scheme is going better than we had ever anticipated," said Jo.
"People tell us to keep coming back and we have had very positive
"I think that people are really pleased that we are bringing fresh
local food to where they work and live and that they can do most of
their shopping from the van.
"They like that their food is freshly picked and environmentally
friendly. It's great to be able to bring that right to people's
doorsteps. But we don't just want to sell food. Our wider aim is to
begin educational projects alongside the van.
"As many of our stops are at community centres and village halls, we
would eventually like to start workshops to engage with local
communities. Hopefully this will inspire them to come to the farm and
see what we do and help with the planting and harvesting.
"Another future plan is to set up an activities area next to the van
where children can make sculptures and do printing using vegetables
while their parents shop, and to have a recipe of the week using a
vegetable that shoppers can buy."
When she is not driving around in the food van, Jo works at
OrganicArts, in West Town Farm, where she engages children and adults
in creative activities involving rural life.
"We do educational visits for school children and people with mental
health problems, and we have volunteer days when anyone can come and
help out on the farm," she said.
"The art projects are related to issues concerning farming. We are
raising awareness of environmental issues through art and creativity
and that is what we are trying to bring to the city.
"I do a lot of work with children at the Chestnut Centre, in Rifford
Road, and now, through the food van, we are trying to extend that to
"By taking the van to different areas of Exeter, some of which are
better off than others, we can get an idea of where we can sell lots
of things and be financially viable, but also find areas where maybe
education is more important.
"We want to reach out to city families to get them to come out to the
farm and see the process, from planting to harvesting."
This time next year, Jo says she hopes to have a bigger, multi-purpose
van and an extended selection of activities for children and adults to
sign up to, including cookery workshops.
"We will be applying to the Food Fund, which is another Lottery grant,
for three years' worth of funding to buy a bigger van and develop the
educational aspects of Love Local Food," she said.
"We're looking into various forms of eco transport too, like
electricity or vegetable oil. We also hope to get more small producers
"Organic products and box schemes are becoming much harder to sell at
the moment. People are dropping out and farmers are finding it quite
difficult to sell their own produce, which is part of the reason why
we are doing this project.
"It is a way for small farmers to sell their food locally and not have
to go through supermarkets.
"Supporting local business is what this is all about. Farmers are too
busy working to market their produce, so if we can do it for them
that's great, and it means that the money they make goes straight back
to their farms and into the local economies."
For further information visit www.lovelocalfood.org.uk.
Daryl H. Hepting, Ph.D.
Associate Professor * Computer Science Department * CW 308.22
University of Regina * Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S 0A2
email@example.com * http://www.cs.uregina.ca/~hepting
tel: (306) 585-5210 * fax: (306) 585-4745 * cell: (306) 596-6312