York to Norfolk – sharing good practice
In this guest blog, Marc Lupson, Adviser Team Manager at RSWT’s Local Food programme, explains how funded projects are sharing good practice and building for the future. They’ve even made a film about one particular success story…
Funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme and managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, the £57.5m Local Food programme is more than just a grant giver.
As well as distributing grants to make local food more affordable and accessible to local communities, we also provide extensive post-award support to our groups whilst they are delivering their projects.
One of the main ways we do this is by promoting the value of ‘shared learning’ and the passing on of good practice. Many people like to use the term ‘best practice’, but this implies that there is only one way of doing things well, or that it’s as good as it gets and you can’t get even better.
Our vision for shared learning and continual improvement is promoted in a variety of ways through the post-award support we provide.
Firstly, we facilitate a series of consultation events entitled ‘Share, Learn, Improve’ to engage and encourage groups by physically bringing them together to exchange ideas and experiences. The idea is that groups take back what they have learned to their own projects, thus improving delivery and the long-term sustainability and impact of their projects.
Secondly, we host an online network called Foodecommunity – a place where our funded groups can tell their stories through blogs, share successes and challenges, and answer each other’s questions.
Foodecommunity connects groups up from all over England, and is a friendly and accessible place to help projects to share and learn from one another. The site is currently only open to Local Food funded groups, but we are planning to open it out to everyone by the end of the year, to allow a wider input and to keep the community growing.
We recently produced a short film about the experience of two Local Food projects – one based in York and the other in Norfolk – that first met in Foodecommunity, and then in person at the site of the Norfolk project.
The film follows what happened when the two projects came together to share and learn from each other, demonstrating that with the right support and encouragement, projects do not have to be geographically close to learn from one another. Both groups involved reaped a lot from the visit, which they could feed back into their own projects – so much so that a reciprocal visit to York was swiftly arranged.
We hope you enjoy their story!