Bristol has officially been awarded the status of Gold Sustainable Food City, recognising the positive work undertaken across the city’s food system, seeking to solve social, environmental, and economic issues.
Awarded by the UK partnership programme, Sustainable Food Places, the accolade means Bristol is only the second city in the UK to achieve the status, with Brighton and Hove awarded it in 2020. The award announcement follows the work of city-wide initiative Bristol Going for Gold, led by coordinating partners Bristol Food Network, Bristol City Council, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and Resource Futures.
Says Joy Carey, Director of Bristol Food Network and Strategic Coordinator of the gold bid: “How we produce, trade, eat and waste food influences the most pressing issues facing us today: from climate and ecological breakdown to human health and well-being, from poverty and justice to animal welfare. This is why food matters and is why, since achieving silver status in 2016, we’ve been determined to support and uncover more individuals, projects and initiatives that are contributing positively to a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system for the city and its citizens. Bristol is brimming with people who are passionate about doing better when it comes to food and it has been our job to capture their stories and impact, whilst doing all we can to support a joined up and holistic approach to food in the city.
“We’re delighted that this work has been recognised at the highest level, being named a Gold Sustainable Food City. We want to thank and applaud all those doing better across our city’s food system, including the citizens who have engaged with important conversations about the future of food here in Bristol.”
The winning application focussed on themes of reducing food waste, community action and growing Bristol’s good food movement, buying better, urban growing, eating better and food equality. Examples of initiatives included in the successful bid were: Grow Wilder, an education centre and growing site empowering people the bring about positive change through sustainable food growing and wildlife friendly practices in Stapleton; the efforts of University of West of England and University of Bristol to take action to transform institutional food culture, including sustainable sourcing, redistributing surplus food, plant-based menus and gardening projects; The Children’s Kitchen, a programme established across the city to explore eating and growing fresh produce with children; and FOOD Clubs, which are a partnership project between Family Action, Feeding Bristol and FareShare South West, with 16 clubs across the city providing nutritious food to families at a fraction of the normal cost.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council and Chairperson of the Going for Gold Steering Group said: “Despite the most challenging of years, we’ve seen extraordinary altruism and a continued fight to resolve not just the issues caused by the pandemic but broader pre-existing social and environmental issues.
“Our Gold achievement is a testament to the whole city rallying together and taking action, from citizens and organisations to policy makers. More than ever there is a collective energy calling for food that is good for people, communities and the planet to be available to everyone in Bristol. This award makes clear that Bristol is on the right path towards a better food future for all citizens.”
Bristol Bites Back Better, a prominent campaign established in the wake of the first COVID lockdown, seeks to empower Bristolians together to create a food system that will nourish the city into the future and aims to draw out and amplify voices from the diverse communities within Bristol. The outcomes of that campaign so far, including 160 blogs and 8 short films from diverse voices across the city, formed a significant part of the application for Gold Sustainable Food City status.
Says Mohammed Saddiq, Chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership: “Bristol Green Capital Partnership is delighted to have helped coordinate Bristol’s successful bid to be a Gold Sustainable Food City. The aim of bringing the whole city together to create a fairer, greener, healthier food system perfectly aligns with our work, which seeks to foster city-wide collaboration on a range of environmental issues and make links between them. In the past year – and since we supported the launch of the Bristol Bites Back Better campaign in response to the pandemic – there has been huge levels of interest and action from the city’s businesses that are intent on doing better. The Partnership will be continuing to support and motivate organisations to take further and faster action to help Bristol meet its ambitious climate and ecological goals. Food will be a key part of this, and the relationships and collaboration that have come out of the work to achieve this status are an ideal platform to build upon.”
The bid to achieve Gold Sustainable Food City status has been supported by sponsors, Essential Trading, GenEco and Lovely Drinks.
Joy Carey, Director of Bristol Food Network, concludes: “This moment is one to be celebrated, but most definitely not an end point for us and all the other key stakeholders in this project. We’re gearing up to start work on the Bristol Good Food 2030 action plan, which will see a more joined up approach to tackling issues such as food insecurity, access to land for growing and food waste, as well as finding better ways to empower Bristolians to create a healthy, accessible and diverse food system fit for the next decade. It’s so important that this plan is framed around the real needs and hopes of our city’s people and communities, and that’s why we’re asking everyone to ‘Join the Conversation’ to share their vision for food in Bristol.”
To view a summary document of the winning bid for gold status, visit: www.goingforgoldbristol.co.uk/bristols-gold-food-submission/
To join the city-wide conversation that is set to continue as part of Bristol Bites Back Better, click here.
A link to the full bid can be found here: https://www.goingforgoldbristol.co.uk/bristols-gold-food-submission/
Buying Better – Freselam Temesgen from Real Habesha says: “Independently run food businesses are much more likely to support the economy of the local area. For example, my father and I use two local shops, Bristol Sweet Mart and Istanbul Supermarket to buy fresh produce daily for the restaurant. This keeps the money in the community, helping it circulate locally for longer and therefore benefitting the area and people within it.”
Urban Growing – Abi Sweet, Alive (a dementia friendly allotment in Brentry) says: “Allotments are a vital community social hub at the best of times, but they came into their own during the lockdown. At Alive we talk a lot about the social and therapeutic benefits of gardening and food production. For many people, they became a literal lifeline. This was no less true for the volunteers who, united around the common bond of food production, rolled up their sleeves and set about turning the plot into a productive allotment. At Alive we are excited by the possibilities community allotments offer in terms of the future food security of the city.”
Spokesperson for Avon Wildlife Trust’s Grow Wilder project: “Intensive agriculture is a leading contributor to the ecological emergency. However, food can be grown in a nature-friendly way that improves wildlife habitats, which in turn supports resilient systems that produce healthy, affordable food. Grow Wilder aims to inspire more people to grow and source food more sustainably. One way of doing that is by training people to adopt sustainable food growing and giving them the skills, work experience and confidence to set up their own projects/businesses.”
Eating Better – Jo Ingleby, The Children’s Kitchen says: “The Children’s Kitchen works within nursery schools with children under five, in the areas of the city where families are most at risk of food insecurity. The settings I work in are also FOOD Club venues or are close to one. The project builds children’s familiarity with fresh, healthy food by exploring in a multi-sensory way, rather than following recipes, and part of the programme is growing fresh fruit and vegetables onsite. The Children’s Kitchen is focused on establishing partnership work across the city between food charities and organisations and Early Years settings. Partners include Incredible Edible Bristol, 91 Ways, the Square Food Foundation and The Travelling Kitchen, who each bring expert knowledge and experience to young children and their families, and help develop the food skills of practitioners to build on what children learn about food and growing.”
Food Equality – Simon Green, FOOD Clubs: “FOOD stands for Food On Our Doorstep and the clubs provide good quality affordable food, while reducing food waste. We work with Feeding Bristol and FareShare South West – who redirect good quality surplus food to us – and that partnership means we now have 16 operating clubs across the city. The clubs have become about so much more than just providing food. What began as weekly food offering has become a thriving example of how partnerships can create a sustainable, resilient and, dare I say, sometimes radical and disruptive food programme.”