Buying & selling ‘local food’
Despite its large rural hinterland, it is not easy for Exeter consumers to buy locally produced food, and especially not at competitive prices . Nor is it easy for local producers to sell to them. In a nutshell, this is because the local food economy is operating on too small a scale to be efficient, and costs to the consumer are high as a result. Local producers tend to sell their produce into larger markets, eg London and Bristol because there is not a ‘critical mass’ of local demand. Boosting demand is therefore of central importance to increasing efficiency and creating a local food economy that can deliver local food cheaply.
Food Exeter wants to help secure a step change in the amount of locally produced sustainable food being eaten by local people – in their homes, work places and cafes and restaurants. Achieving would provide the following benefits:
- support local food producers and stimulate an increase in their number
- increased consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables
- increased environmental benefits in the countryside around Exeter
- stronger sense of connection to local areas and food by Exeter residents
- reduced costs to consumer compared to current costs of high quality fresh local produce
- reduced food waste
Food Exeter’s Routes to Market Working Group is leading on this area of work.
‘Community growing’ covers a wide range of activities, all focused on connecting people to the soil, nature and food in their local area. Food Exeter wants to help the many groups around the area to flourish, expand and critically for many, move to a secure footing rather than the hand to mouth grant-funded existence that many experience.
We brought community growing groups together in September 2018 to explore shared issues and goals. You can read about that here. Ideas for the future included the inspiring vision of a network of community growing groups in and around the city, each producing a modest surplus of food for sale locally, and community growing projects providing a soft route into skills training.
Information about some of the Community Growing groups we know about is here. Please get in touch if you want to be added to the list.
Local Food Information
The Food Exeter Network comprises many local initiatives and businesses involved in local food.