Following the first Regional Food System Conference in October 2021, we regrouped to share updates, explore emerging projects and encourage collaboration on all things relating to growing, producing, distributing, sharing and caring about food in South West Wales.
The goal was to share perspectives and co-produce priorities for regional collaboration and to bring local residents and organisations back together to discuss initiatives to transform our regional food system here in South West Wales.
Catch up on the full event recording and listen to presentations from thought-leaders and experts in the food sector. Click the video at the timestamps listed below to jump to their appropriate segment.
0:02:44 Dawn Lyle, 4theRegion
0:25:00 Augusta Lewis, Bywd Sir Gar Food
0:41:40 Peter Howells, NFU Cymru
1:00:00 Alice Coleman, WCFD PLANED
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Local Authorities & Policy Makers
- We need to get policy makers more involved and increase the amount of support available for smaller scale producers, growers and suppliers.
- A policy-led top-down approach is needed to change the systems.
- Are we able to better map out what’s working? Local growing projects, schemes, etc. Identify the gaps and best practices that could be scaled up.
- Evidencing our needs better, particularly around land.
- We perhaps need to shift our collective regional identity towards the sense of ourselves as a food producing region.
- Connecting farmers back to their communities is also a huge benefit to all concerned.
- Promoting ‘local’ isn’t the only thing but is a principle that may be getting traction with influential bodies and could be the door into the wider changes that are needed around production methods, etc. By local do we mean regional or national?
- Consumers should ask where their food comes from.
Businesses & Producers
- We need more urban and peri-urban farming.
- To get people in using food hubs, we need a massive marketing push.
- Ultra processed food is often cheaper and therefore it brings us back to the issue of food poverty.
- The impact of food price inflation is yet to be fully felt.
- Food growing needs to be part of the national curriculum.
- Food for life partnership is in England and luckily more schools are getting involved, but sustainability and food growing needs to be in mainstream culture.
- When an effective food labelling system incorporates the real price of food – including environmental impacts – this may encourage people to avoid some supermarket products and look local.
- Educating and informing businesses has the potential to trickle down to educate the consumer.
- The new curriculum allows schools in Wales to access more creative and holistic resources.
- Help schools to map the life cycle of food at different levels.
- Regenerative practices produce crops with increased levels of phytonutrients – needed for human health
- We need to teach a lot more about links to food/nutrition and our health.
- Online marketing campaign comparing the nutritional value of local produce vs mass produced produce.
- Hidden costs of cheap foods are in the health sector, and loss of money in the local economy.
- The impact of world events has a major impact on supply chains.
- We need to change the way we farm – stop ploughing, increase soil biology, use traditional seed varieties, small scale mixed farms. We don’t need toxic fertilisers and synthetic fertilisers.
- Anaerobic digestion using animal manure and turning it into renewable energy.
- There could be a lot of work done to loosen compacted soils. Regenerative farming practices.
- There needs to be more focus on carbon net-zero strategy.
Land & Forestry
- Farmers in Pembrokeshire have given land access to growers.
- Social Farms and Gardens have some good resources and support for how to secure long-term success for community growing projects leasing private land.
- CSAs are reaching out to farmers to discuss common problems and find solutions.
- Land management skills are also in short supply.
- A farmer must be sure his or her land is being well managed.
- The land around rural and town communities should be ring-posted for the needs of the community.
- Regarding access to land, it’s not just the land availability, but the type of land suitable for different types of production,
- I think we need to better understand and evidence the demand for land for food growing / production so that the task can be more specific / informed.
- The size of land to produce adequate amounts of food to feed large numbers of people.
- Start up funding for infrastructure etc, business support, finding experienced growers or training new entrants etc.
- For successful food businesses, it’s more of a collaborative approach than just relying on farmers offering up land.
- The key to diversifying food production will be whether subsidies will be available for small-scale intensive horticulture enterprises of 5 acres and under or not.
Prior to this event, we supported Bwyd Abertawe in hosting an online food assembly for the City & County of Swansea – the first step in Swansea’s bid to become a Sustainable Food Place. Find out how you can get involved by connecting with the group on Facebook.
We are collaborating with Wales’ Wellbeing Economy Alliance “Transformational Food” meeting, bringing together all those working on the food system across Wales. If you are doing something interesting related to food – or thinking about it – or if you would like to hear what others are up to across Wales, please come along on Thursday 12th May from 7pm!
Food will be a key theme at our Green Recovery Conference & Exhibition on June 16th. Hosted on behalf of Swansea Council, we are showcasing businesses, projects and organisations who are leading the city’s green recovery. Register for free here, and if you’d like to be involved, please contact zoe@4theRegion.org.uk
And if you are working in this space, have a project in mind, have information or updates to share, or would like to fund or support regional initiatives relating to food, please reach out to us so we can connect, amplify and collaborate! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.