The Reading Room: Food & Farming

The Reading Room: Food & Farming


Across Wales, there is a huge amount of work, thought-leadership, strategy and policy being developed around the future of our food, the future of farming, and how we can build a more sustainable system.  In preparation for our upcoming Food System Conference for South West Wales, we are sharing some interesting reading, as well as useful links and organisational profiles, in an attempt to provide a useful hub for those who want to immerse themselves in this topic!

Please submit your links, organisations and articles to add to this list.

Ahead of the upcoming regional Food System Conference for South West Wales, we talked to Patrick Holden, founder of the Sustainable Food Trust and himself a West Wales dairy farmer, about the challenges and opportunities for transforming our food and farming sector.
Patrick Holden in Conversation with Dawn Lyle #Food4theRegion

The Welsh Government has announced that it will create a Community Food Strategy during its current term.  Jane Powell explores the benefits of a comprehensive community food strategy that would consider land use for Wales.  “Such a food policy could help us decide what our land is for, as well as pulling together other threads, from farming and the economy to health and social inclusion.”
What Wales Could Do With A Community Food Strategy

From shorter food supply chains to a focus on education and understanding, the Wales Food Manifesto is a citizen-led campaign for a food system that will protect and respect people and nature.  The draft version of the manifesto is now open for comments and feedback.  
Wales Food Manifesto (Draft)

Jane Davidson chairs the Wales Inquiry for the Food, Farming & Countryside Commission, and this 2020 report draws from their conversations with people across the nation, illustrating the incredible work already underway. “These inspiring stories show a surge in energy and appetite for new ways of sourcing and growing food and a new appreciation for the role of the countryside.”
FFCC Wales Field Guide for Future Generations

Food Policy Alliance Cymru is a coalition of organisations and stakeholders building and promoting a collective vision for the Welsh food system, through collaboration, engagement and research.  Their 2021 Manifesto envisions a food system that eliminates food poverty, supports population health, provides good jobs and focuses on sustainable, zero carbon faming for nature and climate.
Food Policy Alliance Cymru Manifesto

After four years of hard work and collaboration with numerous farmers, organisations and experts, The Sustainable Food Trust has created a measurement framework for on-farm sustainability, called the Global Farm Metric, which covers 11 categories of sustainability.  “We need a common approach to measuring a farms impact on the environment, economy, and society”.
Read about the Global Farm Metric

Community Growing & Local Food Roundtable
4theRegion assembled a group of thoughtleaders from across South West Wales, to discuss the local food movement and the increased interest in community growing.  Featuring Neil Barry & Witchhazel Wildwood from Swansea Community Growing Network; Tom O’Kane & Jessie Kidd from Cae Tan CSA, Gareth Davies from Pembrokeshire Community Food Network, and Maggie Vicuna from the Forest Garden Project.

4theRegion spoke to Ben Reynolds from Urban Foundry about the website, South Wales Food & Drink, and why creating and sustaining a market for local food is so important.  Food and drink suppliers from across South Wales can list themselves on the website to benefit from co-promotion with likeminded businesses across the region.
South Wales Food & Drink:

Boosting horticulture farming is key to the Welsh Government’s plans to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and is identified by their Green Recovery Taskforce as a route to accelerating Wales’ transition to a low-carbon economy and a healthier, more equal nation.  Tyfu Cymru (Grow Wales) provides funded, tailored support to Wales’ horticulture sector, and has published a Commercial Horticulture Action Plan for Wales.
Tyfu Cymru and the Wales Horticulture Alliance

Please book your place at 4theRegion’s upcoming food system conference!  This will bring together everyone who cares about the future of our food and farming system, to share perspectives and agree priorities for government, businesses and civil society.  If you eat food, you are invited!  Listen, learn and share your views at this online event over two days, 5th and 6th October 2021.
Register Your Place

Measuring a Wellbeing Economy in Wales

Measuring a Wellbeing Economy in Wales

Wellbeing Economy Wales is embarking on a volunteer-led project to create the Wales Wellbeing Economy Index – a visualisation of relevant and meaningful data that frames the wellbeing economy in a way that everyone can understand.  It’s part of a wider mission to broaden the understanding of (and engagement in) the idea of wellbeing economics in Wales. 

The intention is to create a set of indicators that measure and track the progress of the wellbeing economy at a local, constituency or regional level; and which is updated regularly, eg quarterly, so that it is useful and relatable for people.

At tonight’s monthly discussion forum, Stephen Priestnall from Wellbeing Economy Wales provided an introductory overview to the project, which is in its very early stages.  The team is inviting input, insight and involvement from the wider community across Wales – anyone who shares an interest in measuring, tracking and visualising “wellbeing economics” at a local or regional level, or who might have datasets or expertise to contribute.  Opening the project up for early feedback and reflection is part of WEW’s commitment to co-production and partnership working, and the team was incredibly grateful to all those who took an interest in the work and contributed their thoughts.

The current proposal is to seek data that measures five components of a wellbeing economy:

# Sustainable Private GDP
# Economic Cooperation
# Social & cultural wellbeing
# Environmental Wellbeing
# Value of public services provided

Participants queried who the measurements were intended for, and whether they would be useful, meaningful or engaging at a local or oganisational level, to inform decision-making or the focusing of changemaking work at the level of local communities.  The discussion also explored the difference between measuring “wellbeing” (like, for example, mental and physical wellbeing, which is perhaps subjective, qualitative, and hard to measure) versus measuring “wellbeing economics” – which is something we are all seeking to define and understand more clearly here in Wales!

Watch the recording – click here to view the full discussion via Zoom

Stephanie Howarth, Chief Statistician at the Welsh Government, also spoke at the meeting, and provided an overview of how Wellbeing is already being measured and tracked in Wales, through Wales’ Wellbeing Indicator Framework – a set of 46 indicators mapped to the seven wellbeing goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.  Steph explained that the indicators in Wales were intended to “measure progress towards the Wales we want”, and to be:

# Short & Manageable;
# Coherent and fit well with other indicators;
# A measure for the whole of Wales;
# Resonant with the public

Making data meaningful for the public is agreed as the key challenge, and one of the ways Wales has sought to achieve this is through naming it’s indicators in ways that make sense to people – for example statistics relating simply to “healthy babies” rather than more technical definitions.  Stephanie’s team are currently inviting feedback and insight as part of an ongoing consultation about the Wellbeing Indicator Framework, asking what possible gaps there might be, and how the data could be made more useful.  Take a look at the blog to submit your comments:

One key reflection from tonight’s discussion was the importance of localised data, and the ability for communities and local decision-makers to be able to access and “drill down” on data for their local places.  There was a strong consensus in favour of interactive, filterable datasets that are accessible for ordinary people, and Steph agreed that this is an area worth investigating.  Stephen affirmed that the WEW project will seek to use and distribute its data on an open data platform, so that anyone can engage with it.  The aspiration is that the data be useable at a local level, so that we can interact and drill down, bringing communities together to discuss what the data means to them; what its implications are, and what it tells about needs, strengths and challenges.

There were a number of valuable contributions from colleagues across Wales, shining a light of different aspects of the question of measuring wellbeing.  Jonathan Richards, with colleagues, has done a lot of work around measuring the value of public services, and also reflected on some very useful work happening elsewhere, including in Birmingham

At Bronllys Well Being Park, colleagues have designed a comprehensive wellbeing survey, for which they are keen to partner and seek funding – looking at wellbeing through a psychometric lens.  And Barry Farrell noted that their survey work has identified 97 important indicators of well-being in 8 dimensions: Employment & Income, Housing & Environment, Food & Nutrition, Transport, Energy, Leisure, Community, and Physical & Mental Health.

Ellie Harwood, from the Child Poverty Action Group and the Anti-Poverty Coalition said that they have collected a lot of data on child poverty, but that is has been a challenge to get people to use the data they produce.  Her insight was that data becomes most meaningful and actionable when it is provided at a local level, for example by ward – where it feels real and tangible. 

Meanwhile, David Llewellyn from the NHS in Wales advised that they are creating a local wellbeing index intended to stimulate and provoke enhanced community discussions, “such that we can support and co-produce with communities to support wellbeing. It’s still in development but we would be very happy to learn from others”.  

The meeting also reflected on WHY measuring and tracking wellbeing data feels IMPORTANT, and what our ultimate purpose should be as we seek to create and distribute new KPIs.  We heard powerful insights about the importance of good data for determining what is required for change and how to improve things, as well as the power of data to inform community conversations and drive innovation. 

All too often, data is used retrospectively to prove that something has worked and secure future funding – but perhaps our core focus should be on finding and distributing data that inspires us to action – that motivates and empowers us on an individual level, to play our part in making change.  As Vicki Moller commented, “Data has to mean something to locals and lead to action… or so what!?”

What we measure, as a society, also reflects what we value – and perhaps in seeking to find effective measures for the wellbeing of people and the planet we will be able to more strongly advocate for those shared values, and change the culture of society in that direction.  Seeking alternatives to narrow economic evaluations like GVA and GDP is important work if we are to change what we really value, and what we invest in, as a society.  And “wellbeing economics” perhaps provides a new way for Wales to define our own agenda, distinct from those in Westminster, and to build on the achievement of Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and take it forward to better implementation and delivery.

Wellbeing Economy Wales is a volunteer-led organisation, part of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance, working to make the vision of a “wellbeing economy” more visible, more credible and more meaningful, here in Wales.  As a founding member, 4theRegion helps to host the monthly Wellbeing Economy Discussion Forum on the second Thursday of each month.

Register via Eventbrite for upcoming events or contact for info.

Join Our Team and Our Mission For the Region

Join Our Team and Our Mission For the Region

We love where we live and want to help our region flourish, and we believe our best hope for the future lies in getting everyone working together towards a shared vision: greener, happier, healthier communities and a thriving regional economy.  Our values are positivity, collaboration and empowerment – because the future of our region is in all our hands!

If you share our vision and our values, perhaps you’d like to join our team, to make positive change happen for South West Wales?  It’s not just a job, it’s a mission – an opportunity to apply your unique skills, talents and passions, as part of an inspired and inspiring team, to transform our region over the coming years.

4theRegion is a Real Living Wage employer and committed to equal opportunities.  The wellbeing of our people comes first, so we are keen to discuss working patterns that work for each individual, and to ensure we are creating roles that play to each person’s strengths and passions.  We love what we do, and we want you to feel the same.  Get in touch to discuss any of the opportunities below:


South West Wales Connected – Community Rail Officer
from £12.50 per hour or £24,375 per annum
Full time / part time / flexible

Are you passionate about sustainable travel, sustainable tourism, and community involvement?  As the hosts of the regional Community Rail Partnership, 4theRegion is seeking to employ a new CRO to manage South West Wales Connected, an organisation established to leverage the benefits of the rail network in our region.

If you like building relationships, don’t mind attending a few meetings, and love getting out and about across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, here’s a job you can make your own.

How do you think we can encourage more people to use the train and other sustainable transport?  How do you think we can attract more visitors to our region by rail?  How do you think we can maximise the benefit of the railway in communities across South West Wales?  And how do you think we can promote partnership working to achieve all this?

If you’ve got ideas, are self-motivated, and able to manage the day to day running of a small, creative organisation, please apply via the online application form

Job Description – South West Wales Connected – Community Rail Officer

Updated application deadline: 9am 20th August 2021

Administration and Social Media Manager
from £9.50 per hour or £18,525 per annum
Full time / part time / flexible

If you’re all over social media and love communicating with people, as well as being super organised and a stickler for details, you could be just the person we are looking for!  We want to do a better job of getting our messages across to likeminded people in South West Wales with personality and enthusiasm, keeping our members up-to-date, attracting new ones, and sharing insights and news across our social media platforms. 

We also need to run a slick and well organised back office, keeping on top of calendar management, database admin, invoicing and book-keeping, and managing documents via Google Drive. If you could manage our admin, engage with our audience proactively on social media, and support the day-to-day running of the organisation with event support, online research, writing letters and keeping tidy records, we’d love to hear from you! 

You don’t need any special experience and full training will be provided.  This could be your first job or the next step in your career.  What you do need is an appreciation for communication, good IT confidence, and a strong desire to see us succeed in our mission.  Please apply via the application form.

Job Description – 4theRegion – Admin & Social Media Manager

Updated application deadline: 9am 20th August 2021

Projects Officer
from £9.50 per hour or £18,525 per annum
Full time / part time / flexible

We are an independent not-for-profit alliance, on a mission to make change happen in South West Wales, and we are incredibly busy with projects and collaborations across the region!  If you’d like to help us deliver changemaking initiatives in partnership with communities, organisations and businesses across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, this is an exciting opportunity to join our passionate team!

We know that collaboration can be messy, organic and challenging, but also rewarding, amazing and inspiring, and we’re looking for someone to help us unleash this potential across South West Wales.  You’ll need to help us secure funding for new projects, get stuck in with whatever it takes to get projects moving, and proactively engage with partner organisations, businesses and other stakeholders to empower, enable and remove obstacles.

From community gardens to placemaking projects, “buying local” initiatives to sector collaborations… If you’re passionate about helping to build thriving communities and a flourishing regional economy, please apply via the online application form.

Job Description – 4theRegion – Projects Officer

Updated application deadline: 9am 20th August 2021

4theRegion is proud to be a Real Living Wage employer

Decarbonising Homes – A Collective Learning Journey is Needed

Decarbonising Homes – A Collective Learning Journey is Needed

A Greener Local Supply Chain – Learning Journey

Wales has set ambitious targets to decarbonise housing over the next decades, but there are enormous challenges.  Not least is the need to development the skills and competence of the wider SME market in Wales, in terms of retrofit green skills.  Huge opportunities existing for small businesses in the construction sector, if they can get a grip of what’s needed to transform the way homes use energy, heat and materials.  Great career opportunities also exist for all those who are looking for an exciting growth sector in which to contribute.

In partnership with Wyn Pritchard from the Optimised Retrofit Programme, and with our members, Coastal Housing, Family Housing and Pobl Housing Group, 4theRegion has designed a project to begin to unlock some of these opportunities for the benefit of our region.  We have envisioned a collective learning journey that engages “the whole system” in thinking about the challenges and opportunities that exist and are emerging.  We are ideally placed, between us, to connect businesses, developments, residents and training providers, together with the major housing associations as key buyers/clients in that supply chain.  With a trifecta focus on Partnership Working, Community Engagement and Business Engagement, we need to:

  • Raise awareness among businesses and SMEs of new bizdev opportunities
  • Promote opportunities for training, career development
  • Involve people and bring them with us in understanding new technologies and what they would like to see
  • Break down silos between all pieces of the puzzle
  • Share best practice, learning from those who are already doing great work in this sector

As in everything we do, 4theRegion believes fundamentally that we need to involve everyone in the process of transformation, expecting wisdom, leadership, ideas and talent to emerge from any/every part of the whole system.  We have yet to identify the project funding to take this proposal forward, but encourage interested partners to get in touch to further the discussion.


Tribute to Peter Jones

Tribute to Peter Jones

It’s with huge sadness that we say goodbye to our great supporter and friend, Peter Jones, who passed away last week. Peter was Chair of Swansea Bay Futures where Dawn and I met and was a great help to us in creating 4theRegion. Peter was a former partner at Morgan Cole solicitors, and was a well connected and highly respected lawyer, with friends and clients across South West Wales. Our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this sad time.