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

Students and Staff from Swansea College of Art contribute to the ‘Without Borders’ exhibition

Students and Staff from Swansea College of Art contribute to the ‘Without Borders’ exhibition

Students and staff from UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art have contributed to the latest exhibition showcasing at the Elysium Art Gallery, Swansea, ‘Without Borders’.

‘Without Borders’ is an evolving digital project and physical exhibition, aimed at bringing together 22 communities and nearly 300 artists from around the world.

The exhibition seeks to remove barriers, create alliances, and connect with neighbours. It aims to bring creative people together, to collaborate in an international touring exhibition of works on paper – a collection of artists’ pages.

After exhibiting at Swansea, ‘Without Borders’ will travel to Japan, Norway, USA, Venice, Canada, and back to Wales. The project will also be globally accessible via an e-catalogue.

At the end of the tour, the artworks will permanently be bound together to create one unique artist book, to be housed in a special collection’s library which will be announced at a later date.

The term Border describes literal or invisible lines: edges that separate and divide, that contain and limit. Without Borders is particularly evocative and redolent in these current times. Ever-quickening, reactive politics results in some borders hardening, whilst others dissolve. The divide between rich and poor appears to be widening. Physical, geographical, and social borders, together with the fragile, permeable border between life and death have also been highlighted by the recent pandemic.

Jonathan Powell from the Elysium Art Gallery said: “As a former student of Swansea College of Art, I was very keen to get them involved in some way. Despite the difficulties with all the lockdowns and disruptions the students were magnificent and contributed a great body of work.”

Katherine Clewett, Programme Director of the Cert HE Art and Design Foundation course at Swansea College of Art said: “The exhibition title ‘Without Borders’ upholds ideas and perspectives concerning current socio-political boundaries. This project is an opportunity for students and staff to reflect on constricted connections, and to seek collective responses.

“Swansea College of Art contributors comprises students and staff from Foundation, Degree and MA courses, exhibiting in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, photography and stitch.

“We are thankful to Elysium Art Gallery for inviting us to contribute to this timely exhibition.”

The exhibition continues at Elysium Art Gallery until Saturday, August 28th.

University Wales Trinity Saint David

EFT Consult partners with Metrikus on new venture W-360

EFT Consult partners with Metrikus on new venture W-360

The new business will help companies monitor and improve their indoor environments.

Entrepreneur David Kieft, the founder of the Raven Delta Group, has launched a new venture dedicated to monitoring and improving indoor environments through one of its group companies – EFT Consult.

W-360 has been launched with EFT, in partnership with Metrikus, a specialist software company that has pioneered the digitisation of the built environment, offering its clients customisable dashboards from which they can easily view and manage indoor environmental conditions.

From offices in Swansea and London, W-360 will leverage the specialist skills and expertise of EFT Consult, part of the RD Group, and Metrikus to offer a solution to organisations to measure, monitor and ultimately improve the Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) within their buildings.

The Environmental sensors and software platform will monitor and report on the condition of air quality parameters (such as particulate matter, CO2 and VOCs), lighting levels, thermal comfort (including temperature and humidity) and soundscape. All of these factors have the potential to negatively affect human health and well-being.

The launch comes in the context of a growing momentum towards standards around the quality of indoor environments. In April, the British Standards Institute (BSI) fast tracked the development of PAS 3003, sponsored and written by EFT and its partners, into a new standard designed for measuring, monitoring and reporting indoor environmental quality and wellbeing of occupants. The move recognised the pioneering work EFT Consult has conducted over the past six years.

W-360 will help companies understand and implement the new standard. It will offer a range of services including an assessment of the existing quality of indoor environments, building design and installation services and the installation and management of a range of sensors, linked to a dashboard that companies can easily view.

David Kieft said: “We are very proud to unveil this exciting new venture at a time when concerns around indoor environments and decarbonisation are very much coming to the fore. We have been heavily involved around developing standards in this area and we are delighted with the work BSI is now taking forward on this. We look forward to working through W-360, to drive this process forward and help many organisations along the way.”

Seren Global Media

NRW raring to go after Welsh Government’s tree planting “national call to arms”

NRW raring to go after Welsh Government’s tree planting “national call to arms”

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has today welcomed the Welsh Government’s “national call to arms” to significantly expand the green canopy in Wales and has pledged to work with the government and partners to achieve a dramatic increase in tree planting.

The call comes after NRW worked as part of the Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS’ task force charged with exploring ways to expedite tree planting in Wales.

Over an intensive three-week period, a team of experts came together to develop a series of recommendations aimed at supporting woodland creation and focus upon removing barriers to tree planting. The expert team also investigated ways of increasing the value and amount of sustainably grown Welsh timber used in Wales.

This work builds on NRW’s existing efforts to increase tree coverage in Wales through an existing Woodland Creation Programme. This covers a wide range of work including expanding the NRW managed Welsh Government Woodland Estate; scoping new funding avenues for woodland creation; and ongoing work to reduce the regulatory burden of woodland creation without compromising vital environmental safeguards.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive Officer of NRW said: “Woodland creation is an essential part of creating a healthier and prosperous Wales.

“We are determined to contribute towards Welsh Government’s ambition to be carbon net zero by 2050 through planting up to 180,000 hectares of new woodland and hedges.

“We are all facing climate and nature crises and large-scale tree planting will help us tackle both. It will also provide significant benefits to everyone in Wales. I am delighted at the new momentum tree planting is enjoying in Wales.”

NRW was represented on the task force by its Executive Director of Communications, Customer and Commercial, Sarah Jennings.

She said: “It has been a pleasure to work alongside experts from across Wales and across sectors on the findings set out by the Deputy Minister.

“We have worked together with common purpose to understand the barriers to tree planting and how they can be overcome.

“The benefits of tree planting are too great to pass up; they provide a range of substantial environmental, economic, cultural and wellbeing benefits.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Deputy Minister and our partners in an alliance for change across Wales to develop the recommendations into actions that will have a real and positive impact on Wales’ future.”

NRW will continue to work with the Welsh Government and its partners to further the extensive tree planting ambitions in Wales and to deliver the many benefits this can provide to us all.

Natural Resources Wales

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.

University creates a leadership development programme for the emergency services

University creates a leadership development programme for the emergency services

Julie Crossman, a lecturer from the Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research (WAPPAR) devised a leadership development programme with the Welsh Ambulance Service (NHS) Trust (WAST) to support the new leadership role of Senior Paramedic. Since January this year, over 30 Senior Paramedics were recruited, and this is a growing scheme with plans to develop more Senior Paramedics each year. A need was identified for a consistent, coherent and standardised leadership development programme to support staff in these roles. The resulting award is a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice (Leadership in Emergency Services).

The role of Senior Paramedic is a new initiative within WAST, and seeks to develop clinical leadership roles to support the Service in its ambitions to be more clinically led and to further develop an operationally effective service that’s fit for the future. It’s a position that’s intended to enhance the degree of frontline clinical leadership within the organisation with the prime intention of developing and improving practice as well as transform the means by which we shape the clinicians to deliver services.

All of the Senior Paramedics will pursue the qualification delivered by WAPPAR to ensure that they enhance and develop their existing leadership skills to undertake their role. It’s a programme that focuses on applying learning to professional practice and seeks to cultivate transformational leaders, engaging the workforce to meet the challenges faced in terms of improvements in clinical practice and transforming the way services are delivered. After completing the Postgraduate Certificate, students will be able to apply for the Chartered Manager Award within the University.

According to Julie Crossman: “I am excited by the opportunity to support the development of such a valued profession. The Senior Paramedics are a tremendous asset to WAST and I feel very fortunate to be playing a small part in their ongoing leadership development. The senior leadership at WAST have wholeheartedly supported the Senior Paramedics in terms of facilitating their leadership development, and UWTSD are working in partnership with WAST to present an engaging and meaningful programme to develop skills for the future.”

Recently WAST and UWTSD held a virtual event, and this was the first opportunity to bring the whole group together, and to find out how Senior Paramedics can get support from leadership . It was as an opportunity for the CEO Jason Killens to speak to the group, whilst also learning how important and vital this new role is to WAST.

Andy Swinburn, Associate Director of Paramedicine said: “The importance of this programme and coming together of our inaugural Senior Paramedic teams cannot be overstated. The creation of this position, coupled with this leadership education programme will be an instrumental step in the development of the organisation. Having all our Senior Paramedics together (albeit virtually) was a great opportunity to set the direction and recap on progress to date. I also want to thanks our CEO Jason Killens for taking time out to speak to the attendees and share his insights, expectations and future aspirations for the role and how the education will support this development.”

Recently Andy has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal, that recognises the hard work he has put it to the Ambulance Service and the NHS during his career.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David