Local Food – more than just the veg
In this guest blog, RSWT’s Mark Wheddon explains the impact of the BIG-funded Local Food programme. As the group’s evaluation has shown, projects from across the country have dug deep and local communities are now reaping the rewards.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Local Food is a £59.8 million programme distributing money to more than 500 projects nationwide that are helping to make locally grown food accessible and affordable to communities.
But that’s not all. According to an academic evaluation of Local Food, carried out by experts at the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), Local Food is also a vehicle for community cohesion, regeneration, healthy eating, educational enhancement, integrating disadvantaged groups into mainstream society, and developing people’s skills so that they are better able to get into paid employment.
Indeed, at a recent event at City Hall in London, we launched the interim findings of this evaluation, which show how our projects are going beyond their aim of making local food more accessible and affordable, and are building community capacity across England.
The report, called “More than just the veg – Growing community capacity through Local Food projects”, explains how Local Food is helping to develop community capacity in the following ways:
- Building material capacity: Local Food projects are delivering a range of outputs in relation to land, people and events, which provide the physical infrastructure to enable individual and community potential.
- Building personal capacity: Local Food projects are contributing to personal development and empowerment, including by nurturing self-esteem, changing existing lifestyle patterns and developing skills.
- Building cultural capacity: Local Food projects are increasing social and organisational capacity, as well as fostering wider community awareness, engagement and ownership.
To help bring each of these themes to life, we produced a series of short films, with case study evidence from Local Food projects across the country. You can watch these in the playlist above.
At the launch event in London, the films helped to fuel a lively panel debate chaired by Sheila Dillon, Presenter of Radio 4’s The Food Programme, which discussed how we can build on the very positive effects our projects are having, and scale up their impact to reach a much larger number of communities – potentially bringing significant knock-on benefits for the wider economy and society as a whole.
You can read a summary of key comments from the day, as well as all the presentations and comments from delegates about what inspires them about Local Food and their aspirations for the future, by visiting our Local Food website.
Join us over on Twitter to continue the debate! #morethanjusttheveg
Mark Wheddon is Programme Manager at Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts’ Local Food programme