Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fair Food Carlisle project to grow after cash windfall

An alliance which champions local produce is expanding after landing a cash windfall.

Food Fair photo
Back, from left, Martin Daley, Howard Cain, Zoe Sutton, Gareth Thomas and Mark Lloyd. Front, from left, Emma Titley, Linda Norris and Marion Konopka

Fair Food Carlisle has secured a £5,000 prize after outshining more than 110 other contenders in a challenge encouraging community buying.

It is now opening its first depot and will widen its work – hopefully eventually going on to get fresh food into some of north Cumbria’s poorest communities.

The organisation links buying groups with food producers within a 30-mile radius of Carlisle. It aims to provide an alternative to supermarkets while cutting down on so-called food miles as produce is taken from fields to shelves.

A pilot buying group has been run from Carlisle City Council’s Civic Centre headquarters. Such has been its success that up to six more are poised to start in businesses and other organisations across the city.

An online system has also been developed so buyers can order the food they want.

Fair Food Carlisle is an alliance between Sustainable Carlisle and Brampton Food Network.

Co-ordinator Mark Lloyd said: “Winning the prize was a really good result. The money will allow us to expand the project.

“We have had a lot of interest and we hope to get new groups up and running in the next few weeks.

“Many producers like to sell locally. Supermarkets want everything to be consistent with just on time delivery. It’s hard for small producers to compete with big, industrial-sized farms.”

As expansion groups continue, Fair Food Carlisle hopes to sign up two buying groups of between 10 and 20 people every month.

A depot with cold store is to be opened at the Enterprise Centre in James Street.

The drive to buy local and support local farmers and growers has been prominent in Cumbria in the past few years, promoted as a way of supporting produce and jobs. The success of Fair Food Carlisle has been welcomed by suppliers, who say it provides good value for money.

Organic farmer David James, of Bothel, said: “Many of my cuts of lamb are cheaper than those on the supermarket shelf, it is just having a mechanism to get them to the person 20 miles down the road in Carlisle who wants to eat it – that’s the problem.”

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