Any attempt to find a solution to the problems we face in the current climate of economic uncertainty, energy insecurity and environmental concerns presents a challenge to us as individuals that can seem overwhelming. But many people believe the recent political thrust towards a more localised system of governance is the answer, and are not just talking about the ‘Big Society’, they are actively embracing schemes across England that unite local people with local food.
Recently leading food producers warned that the UK was in urgent need of a food strategy to avoid further reliance on food imports and create a more sustainable future for British food production.
Over the coming months, the Government will be doing just that – reviewing its food policy to produce a brand new document, and, for the first time, social enterprise will play a significant role in shaping its outcome.
The Plunkett Foundation helps rural communities through community-ownership to take control of the issues affecting them. The focus of our work is: helping rural communities to set up and run community-owned shops with a range of partner organisations; supporting rural communities to establish a wide range of other community-owned rural services; promoting and supporting the development of community food and farming enterprises across England through leading the Making Local Food Work programme and other community food and farming enterprises; advocating and raising awareness amongst policy makers, support organisations and rural communities themselves of the ability of rural communities to take control through community-ownership of the issues affecting them.
Founded in 1919, the Plunkett Foundation is a national organisation based in Woodstock , Oxfordshire. The Plunkett Foundation finds the most effective ways for each generation to put into practice the values created by its founder, Sir Horace Plunkett. These values are three fold:
To seek economic solutions to create social change
To seek solutions that enrich rural community life
To see self-help as the most effective way to tackle rural needs.
The Plunkett Foundation has supported the now 260 community-owned shops that exist across the UK through grants, loans and free business support, as well as hosting a free forum for communities to share their experience and inspire each other, at www.plunkett.uk.net.
Making Local Food Work is a Big Lottery funded initiative led by the Plunkett Foundation that spans five years and works with communities across the country to set up and run community food enterprises. It is providing social enterprises with a real voice, directly helping to influence policy in a way that could really make a difference.
One of the key challenges facing the future of food will be how to ensure sustainable methods of food production are supported to provide the UK with a localised food system, able to support itself and the wider community. Community food enterprises – which take all kinds of forms of social enterprise, from community supported agriculture to farmers’ markets and buying groups – are sustainable by their very nature, as they rely on a partnership between producer and community that is fair and transparent.
Find out more about how Making Local Food Work can support your community food enterprise by visiting www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk or calling 01993 810730.
The Plunkett Foundation Website: www.plunkett.co.uk
To contact Katherine Darling: [email protected]
To follow Katherine on Twitter: @Kat_Plunkett