PROJECTS > GOWER FIELD TO FORK
GOWER FIELD TO FORK
In partnership with a number of Swansea-based organisations, we are leading on a project to demonstrate the benefits of using local suppliers for their food production and getting locally grown food to local communities.
Field to Fork brought together local farms with Bishopston School and food distributor Castell Howell in a ground-breaking series of activities that saw food from the farms being delivered to the school and used to prepare a nutritious meal. Children learned about local food production, sustainability, cooking, marketing, and agriculture.
This project is run in partnership with Bishopston Comprehensive School, City & County Of Swansea, Castell Howell Group, Gower Farmers Market, Red Media, and Overbyhere Associates.
We’re delighted that this project has been awarded for its incredible contribution to transforming the local food system to prioritise children’s food now and in the future, at the national Children Food Summit held in Leeds on the 16th May.
About the Project
There is a strong desire to see more local food in school meals – both from a health and wellbeing perspective, and as an economic driver to support local farmers and create a reliable market for their produce. The future of farming – and the health of our living planet – will rely on young people being more aware and better connected to agriculture, and where their food comes from. And the survival of local farms relies on finding sustainable local customers.
In April 2022 Castell Howell approached 4theRegion with a challenge – to address some of the barriers to supplying local food into schools. We needed to develop a pathfinder project to uncover some of the challenges and find solutions to make local sourcing a more viable proposition for school catering procurement.
Building on strong relationships with local growers on Gower, and with Bishopston Comprehensive School keen to get involved, a project was born to involve school children in the process of designing a dinner menu that incorporated local produce and raised awareness of the importance of reducing food miles.
Andrew Thomas, who is part of the senior leadership team at Bishopston School, and Food Technology teacher Anna Thorburn, were keen to maximise the learning opportunities for the school children, incorporating farm visits and running classroom sessions related to all aspects of planning a menu and promoting the event to the rest of the school – so that as many children would choose school dinners on that day. A culture shift that puts healthier, tastier, climate-friendly food onto children’s plates requires collaboration with schools and pupils to ensure they love the food they are served.
The Council’s catering team came on board to support this case study project, stipulating that the meal must be compliant with dietary guidelines and ingredients signed off prior to moving forward.
Western Slade Farm, Little Waterstone Farm, Shepherds, Port Eynon farm, Lesliedale Farm and Penmaen collaborated with Castell Howell to agree what seasonal, locally grown produce would be available for the event. From this, Castell Howell produced a meal plan and put this to the school to vote for their favourite options. Chefs from Castell Howell hosted a tasting session for children to make their final menu selections, with Beetroot Brownies coming out as a clear winner!
On 21st October, around 600 children and staff enjoyed a school meal that incorporated potatoes, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, honey, and beetroots grown on Gower, demonstrating the potential for much more local produce in school meals.
During the project, many insights were gained into the strengths and obstacles for the school catering team, the pressures on catering staff, what equipment is available, and what types of food and meals can be produced within the constraints of a school kitchen. As a pathfinder project, and as a learning journey, this has been a huge achievement for everyone involved, receiving great coverage across the media including a feature on ITV Wales news.
The next step is to see how this initiative can be scaled up and embraced by public sector organisations across the region. We need to work collaboratively to listen to the fears and concerns of partners, but with a focus on the art of the possible. One thing is clear: school dinners need to change, and there’s a huge opportunity to retain more of the benefits of school procurement within the local region. We are looking forward to continuing to open doors and resolve the obstacles to make this happen at scale.