The 4theRegion Podcast
The 4theRegion Podcast

THE 4THEREGION PODCAST

52. Gower Grown Veg Project with Castell Howell

52. Gower Grown Veg Project with Castell Howell
13 Sep, 2023
Bwyd Abertawe is Swansea's local food partnership, and is collaborating with 4theRegion and Castell Howell Foods to support an increase in the volume of veg grown on the Gower Peninsular and generally across the Swansea Bay area.

SHOW NOTES

Bwyd Abertawe is Swansea’s local food partnership, and is collaborating with 4theRegion and Castell Howell Foods to support an increase in the volume of veg grown on the Gower Peninsular and generally across the Swansea Bay area.  This project is part of a wide range of activities across South West Wales which seek to strengthen our local food supply chains and our regional horticultural sector.

This conversation brought together:

  • Dawn Lyle, 4theRegion
  • Edward Morgan, Castell Howell Foods
  • Lucy Hole, Secret Hospitality Group
  • Ian Chriswick, Gower College
  • Sarah Gould, Lantra
  • Richard Bond, Food & Drink Wales

Supporting Local Producers: Lucy Hole emphasised Secret Hospitality’s commitment to support local producers across Swansea Bay, highlighting their collaboration with Castell Howell. However, they acknowledged that the volume of produce this year has presented challenges, preventing them from fully supporting local producers.

Richard Bond from the Food & Drink Wales project, brought a broader perspective to the discussion. The Food & Drink Wales project is responsible for promoting Welsh food and drink in Wales, the UK and internationally. Their vision is to create a strong and vibrant Welsh food and drink sector with a global reputation for excellence, having one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.

Ian Chriswick from Gower College shared insights from the GCS Green Hwb project. The Green Hwb project delivers qualifications in horticulture. Produce from the project will be used to go to local causes, with the first crop of the year supporting projects such as the Phoenix Centre and The Nelson Trust. This project demonstrates the potential of food production as a means of support for local initiatives.

Sarah Gould, of Lantra (who run the Farming Connect project) added to the discussion with her industry expertise. The Farming Connect project supports Welsh farmers with business support and training. Andrew Stevens, a livestock farmer and the Champion for Rural Economy at Swansea Council, shared insights from a farming perspective.

Challenges and Obstacles: Ed Morgan from Castell Howell led a discussion on the challenges faced by local producers and the wider food industry. He emphasised the globalisation of the food supply chain in recent decades, leaving communities vulnerable to supply disruptions. Food security has become a concern, particularly in light of recent environmental factors impacting food production and supply chains.

Ed highlighted the need for a template or framework for engaging with growers and supporting them financially and operationally. The challenge, as identified, includes the timing of produce availability, weather disruptions, and land acquisition by renewable energy industries.

The group discussed various strategies to address these obstacles, including:

Engaging with Growers: Collaboratively engaging with growers to understand their capacity and requirements, and committing to support on factors like seed costs, staff expenses and machinery.

Educational Engagement: Focusing on the educational sector by working with schools and colleges to bridge the gap and introduce young people to farming. Exploring the potential link between education and the industry to support catering students and foster a stronger connection between educational institutions, restaurants and local producers.

Competing with Global Markets: Developing strategies to compete with growers in England and abroad by focusing on quality, value, and experience.

Logistics and Distribution: Recognising the importance of logistics and distribution for small growers, and exploring partnerships with distributors like Castell Howell.

The meeting concluded with a recognition of the complex challenges facing local producers in Swansea Bay. However, there was an optimistic outlook on the potential for collaboration and support from various sectors to overcome these challenges. The group committed to further discussions and action plans to enhance the support for local producers and strengthen the regional food supply chain.

4theRegion is keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in this project, please contact zoe@4theRegion.org.uk

Project updates will be published here: https://www.4theregion.org.uk/projects/gower-grown/

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52. Gower Grown Veg Project with Castell Howell

52. Gower Grown Veg Project with Castell Howell

Bwyd Abertawe is Swansea's local food partnership, and is collaborating with 4theRegion and Castell Howell Foods to support an increase in the volume of veg grown on the Gower Peninsular and generally across the Swansea Bay area.