WORK PARTY, JOIN US, 10AM SUN 19TH JUNE
A Community Supported Agriculture Scheme or CSA is a new way of producing and distributing the food that we eat. By connecting the consumer with those that produce our food, a better deal can be achieved for both. The CSA model offers access to land and the expertise of a grower but relies on community involvement for the scheme to function. By working together, we can increase our food security, develop a greater connection with nature and begin the regeneration of farmland and nature.
Come and join our work party which is building the foundation of a Community Supported Agriculture project. Help the core farm team grow, harvest and distribute food, facilitate educational projects and host community events. Longer term you could become a Community Grower, regularly helping in the field or become a Share Member and support the farm with your enthusiasm and through a weekly financial payment. Together we create delicious, nutritious food, magical hands-on experiences and enrich the local wildlife and soil.
We want to get started with some of the land clearing at Wandershiell on Sunday 19th June from 10 o’clock. This is because over the next six months we want to build the soil fertility making it able to grow brilliant veg. We need to get a band of volunteers to help us. So would you like to help us that day and do you know anybody you can bring along? All you will need is gardening clothes. We can provide gloves and wellies.
Lifts from Brechin are available. Contact us to confirm a place by text on 07703257834 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it time to move forward with local, organic and fair trading for the sake of all our futures? Anne Thomson talks to the BBC's Euan McIlwraith in 2016 about school meals .Audio File
Bringing about the wider benefits of good locally produced food for health, jobs, care, education, climate, biodiversity within Angus, the breadbasket of Scotland, needs new council to forge a joined up approach starting with school meals, then integrating food growing within planning policy.
Spending more in one area will save handsomely in others, benefit the common good and address the multiple crises of cost of living, health decline, war and Brexit induced shortages plus climate/biodiversity crisis.
As a candidate for election,
Do you support food buying in Angus to adopt Soil Association Food For Life standards which require vegetable and salad preparation in school serveries?
Do you support planning policy to allow sustainable food growing to be integrated and encouraged alongside housing, businesses and institutions like hospitals and schools?
Do you support investment in infrastructure for local food in Angus such as local food hubs and cold stores?
Get in touch if interested in helping make good local food and all its benefits a reality in Angus. Email us at TheFoodLifeScotland@gmail.com
Tayside Contracts held a public meeting to try to encourage more local food supply.
It was a well attended meeting. Pity the tenets of The Food Life of People Care, Earth Care and Fair Shares were not much in evidence.
Held in the Strathmore Mart, loud air conditioning combined with un-amplified voices, poor clarity of visual presentation and cold air temperatures meant it was challenging to know what was said. I suggest the City Hall in Brechin as a very comfortable alternative venue. Further the format comprised a lot of talking AT the audience as opposed to listening to the audience and the many many reasons why local features hardly at all on school menus in Angus.
Food is all about relationships. Distance these relationships by making food something that comes out of a packet rather than something which our community are involved in producing leads to a nightmare complexity of distrust, rules and just poor quality. Especially when children’s knowledge on what to eat is so crucially guided by the culture of place and people. So barely mentioned was the damage to soil, climate, ecosystem caused by the importation of chemical and fossil fuel based food. Also, wash a salad in Dundee and transport it to Monifieth means the school students have lost the understanding and community of growing, tending, picking and serving that salad. The localised process would improve knowledge and skills and convey how integrated with the seasons food needs to be to enhance quality of life, ecosystems and calm climate change.
Much was made of the essential demands of the overblown contract system, made so because of the separation of food from people. Little was said about the inequitable share of value from the food that went to the industrial scale delivery companies versus the growers and how that made the whole prospect of supplying Tayside Contracts pointless.
So was the meeting worth it? Well if Tayside Contracts can produce the quality they do for I am guessing, not much more than a £1 a day per student we really ought to know what that money could buy if done locally by school kitchens via Community Supported and Focussed Agriculture. Our local high school which probably supplies 300 meals per day could offer 10 jobs and represent the equivalent of £1m of turnover and wages per year for local people and businesses in our small town. This does not even count the educational and health benefits from real local food minus the externalised costs to the environment which could be saved. Make these meals attractive and adults and many more students will want them.
We think it is time to treat food as a valuable resource with a broad spectrum of benefits and council policy across planning, education, health and climate should be the first areas to properly integrate these benefits.
Chair, The Food Life
For release: Wednesday, 14th July 2021
Brechin can celebrate a collaboration between Brechin Matters (Brechin High School’s Wellbeing Initiative) and The Food Life. The team have been awarded £10,000 from the National Lottery to enable Brechin students and community to learn together food production skills and be part of building a sustainable local food system engaging with nature and being climate friendly.
The Food Life, Brechin High School and the Brechin Community will use the money initially to train 10 people in the skills of growing, processing, and distribution of food. Training will involve how to improve soil health and bring about a reduced carbon footprint and better use of resources. Increased community self-sufficiency and resilience will help to reduce dependence on external resources. The 10 people being trained will consecutively train upwards of 50 others from primary school students, secondary school students through to adults who are looking to retrain post Covid and gain work experience.
During the first pandemic lockdown Anne Thomson, Chair of The Food Life and a local fruit grower met virtually with Lilian Black, a teacher at Brechin High School who had been running Wellbeing events and also had a passion for Community Supported Agriculture, and together they were given the green light to pilot a project looking at the impact a Food Production Course delivered on permaculture principles (human care, land care and fair share) would have on the student’s Wellbeing. The response was very positive among students and teachers.
The group now intend to train 10 people who can spread the message more widely and sustainably into the future. At the same time a plan to develop a Community Supported Agriculture Veg Box scheme on land close to the school will be examined with local land owners and the local community with the multiplicity of benefits for the community, the social relationships, the economy and biodiversity in its sights.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will see a full year of training for the new tutors and for students leading to qualifications and a positive route to further courses for enterprise or employment.
Anne Thomson, Chair of The Food Life, says: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has supported our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to join up the food system locally to the assured benefit of people, the environment, the economy and health. This is important in a time of many growing challenges affecting food supply chains caused by climate change, pandemic, and fears for the global economy”
Mr Archie Bathgate, Head teacher at Brechin High School said “ Our school vision is to achieve excellence in learning and wellbeing. This funding allows us to achieve this through collaboration with the local community”.
The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still: said: "In these unprecedented times, it’s heartening to see the way Scottish communities are coming together to provide each other with support. I would like to congratulate The Food Life (Scotland) Limited on their award which is testament to the incredible efforts of their staff and volunteers. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is making such a difference."
Anne Thomson, The Food Life tel 01356 623115 or email email@example.com
Pictures are available upon request.
Lilian Black Brechin High School-tel 01356 237100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
Note from The National Lottery Community Fund
We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Lottery players raise £30 million each week for good causes throughout the UK. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.
We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.
With COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November 2021 and a 3 week series of meetings in June to prepare for each country's contribution to reduction in carbon use, we are excited to see how radical our own council can be.
Angus has a disproportionately large export based food and farming sector so is able to offer a bigger reduction in food emissions than other local authorities. The food and farming sector constitutes 20-30% emissions globally.
Only 13 out of 92 climate emergency plans released by UK councils include policies to tackle food emissions at a scale needed.
Two thirds of climate action plans contain no new or substantial proposals to tackle food-related emissions at all.
We await to hear when the SECAP for Angus is to be issued and what targets and proposals are set.
1. The Food System
The Food Life (TFL) is a Community Benefit Society who has been trying to join up the food system for the benefit of all parties in our area for 5 years. (well, no, not the multinationals) During that time TFL have researched many routes to making a difference to the access to local food.
We have found engaging with government – national and local – has been frustrating and futile.
We know agro-ecology can make a positive change to food system outcomes but the reason it is not on the political agenda is because it is not seen to generate a profit for agribusiness. Instead we have a focus on alcohol and sweet biscuits and exports which only benefit elites.
Attempts to feed local children on food grown locally in order to increase quality and nutrients has been ambushed at every turn, preferring instead to support the world’s largest caterer and their huge profit margins. This means high levels of poor nutrient quality carbohydrates and meat being fed to our children.
Male and female politicians do not ‘care’ enough to push for change. Yet we see the health of our people and children declining.
We have run workshops and events with little long-term effects. The small businesses who initially set up The Food Life are like farmers, flat-out just trying to make a living with no space to truly focus on building a joined up food system. We have since broadened our membership to community activists to find alliances across a narrower geographic area – North Angus -to find time and allies with whom to bring change.
TFL have a track record on engaging with the community and producing action with long term potential.
With Brechin Healthcare Group (a charity who are using the resources of the community to improve the health and wellbeing for long term resilience in the face of service withdrawals by state bodies) and Brechin High School we have created The Food Course aimed at secondary school students and their families at Brechin High School based at a local permaculture farm. Students learn to ‘grow, process, preserve, distribute into community’ food and by learning the skills of a regenerative economy, they will themselves grow in confidence and self-reliance, preparing them for a lifetime of learning and growing. The learning is by observation and participation, not lecturing. The program will evolve to support long term community resilience plans. In food system terms, that means being able to feed everyone a healthy diet in the face of shocks.
Our Learning is that to make change there are some key requirements.
Food is a complex system but you do not need to understand it completely from an academic viewpoint to correct its trajectory. As farmers have always done, they learn by doing and observing what works and what does not. Many skills are developed and inventiveness is essential. But what is most needed is willingness to keep learning.
The values in the approach need to be human scale, we need to value authenticity, open-ness, reality of hard work and relationships and most of all to have fun.
So, we believe that in the Brechin community we have a unique set of circumstances as per the 3 requirements above. We have the community primed and we have the scale and tradition from being a market town to succeed. From the Food Course we discern a huge interest in learning how to become self resilient. The source of wealth is all around us.
The town has a rich history. It was built on extremely fertile land and is famous for its round tower to which people flocked to be cured by the monks in the mediaeval hospital. The school was founded in 1492.
It lost its industrial base 30 years ago and for years it has been losing many of its young people to other more prosperous areas. Brechin always seems to be at the bottom of the list to receive support possibly due to its lower relative population of 8000. In earlier times it has been double that.
4. The Change
Our vision is
5. Societal Factors
The food system is a microcosm of society and economy. It has some really bad outcomes.
Therefore we wish to devote some effort to establishing just how we take our plan forward given the internal and external societal factors.
We would use funding from Necessity for deep research, that is community led action research to find out people’s attitudes to food, the depth and scale of food inadequacy and to develop our food strategy in contrast to that of the council. It will help us decide where we go and what we do.
Food is a great catalyst for change and connection in many aspects of life.
A demonstration garden, a community fridge and pantry can potentially all start the engagement needed from the community.
The funding would enable us to bring in expert facilitation for
We aim to spread niche level change eg keeping chickens because we cannot wait for top-down change to happen (if ever). In place of disappearing jobs then we will promote decent work, food adequacy and kindness and self help philosophy.
As to the main tenets of the plan for discussion, we will be looking at the change from the extractive model of exploitation to the regenerative model and what that will mean in practice for protection and production of resources and practices which use these to produce a yield.
The exploration will necessarily delve into several areas touched on by your brief
The valuing of assets and their allocation needs to change
b) Life after Covid
The belief in a better beautiful world beyond commodity thinking will be necessary to maintain adherence to building it. Falling under the spell of nature will help everyone to engage to save it.
Fairness and equity will be fundamental to adoption. The ethos is that of participative training, experiential and observational learning and not that of expert knowledge, although of course there is an undiminished role for expertise and technology when appropriate. Hence the need to plan for education, exams and learning to change to support the new kind of living.
Essential to the new ethos will be the enabling of the young, the old, the neglected and dispossessed to have a voice and influence.
c) A social movement.
The only way that political change will happen is through a social movement which will ultimately bring wider society on board. The town needs to figure out how it will build that.
Being the change that we want to see could include and can be explored further in the research:
Always feeding people properly on all occasions
Having a local menu using real locally sourced food
Inclusive and collaborative discussion and action
Ensure ongoing learning culture
Reframe demands eg for rights, in terms which connect with people
Promote value of individuals,not by profit or £ created by them but number of meaningful connections they maintain with Nature including other people
7. The approach of the service design based research.
Service Design is concerned with how things work for people. It looks at the lived experience, behaviours and aspirations. It connects strategy with how things are actually practised on the ground.
Taking a service design approach means that services/products are designed based on the needs of the user. The user plays a part in all aspects of the process - insights gathering to idea generation, co-design and proto-typing. Human centred design ensures deep empathy is built with the individuals you’re designing with. Together you turn what you’ve learned about the problem into designing a solution, building and testing ideas before implementation.
These collaborative processes mean everyone has a role to play in innovation, imagining alternatives to bring them into being. By building people’s skills, the service design approach enables communities to pursue longer term opportunities together.
With the multiple crises of environment destruction, climate change, pandemics and economic instability, it has become apparent that life will change for many people. Whatever happens, greater self reliance and the looking for local solutions will grow.
When it comes to meeting base needs, growing food is key for both physical and mental health but also can be a great example of living within planetary limits, taking only a fair share and caring for the earth and all its inhabitants.
The Food Life (TFL- a Community Benefit Society) in conjunction with Brechin Healthcare Group and Brechin High School have created The Food Course aimed at secondary school students (and their families) at Brechin High School based at a local permaculture farm.
They will learn to ‘grow, process, preserve, distribute into community’ food and by learning the skills of a regenerative economy they will themselves grow in confidence and self-reliance, preparing them for a lifetime of learning and growing.
The program will evolve to support community resilience plans including the Infirmary land proposal from Brechin Healthcare Group.
Brechin Healthcare Group (BHG) is a registered charity who wish to build on the resources of the community to improve the health and wellbeing of our community to enable us to be more resilient; better able to cope with the changes to local services; with less need for medical intervention both physically and mentally.
So in partnership with BHG our vision is to have
a Community Garden space at the Infirmary for everyone to enjoy, learn and benefit from
Social prescribing with - Healthy veg - Cookery sessions - Exercise in the form of gardening
Fresh Veg Bags from a partnership of local agroecological growers
FarmStart – provide a route into commercial scale organic growing – supplying veg into local restaurants, cafes and shops, farmers market
Training in growing food for all interested
Café and retail hub to provide access to produce
There is a need for fresh produce to be available for everyone. But not just available; there is an education job to do to get folk using it and finding the benefit of it. Many projects are short-term, raise expectation, like the Brechin Charrette and are not followed up.
Folk need to get used to eating a healthy fresh produce diet. In addition in order to supply sufficient amounts of food there is the need for training in growing food for the amateurs all the way through to professional growers and the way to accomplish that is through a farm i.e. a Community Supported Agriculture based farm on the periphery of the town. And linked to that the skills of baking, cooking, preserving, fermenting, freezing etc our food so that we are much more self-sufficient, healthier and less dependent on outside services. Students with greater confidence in the requisite skills would be able to build small businesses aiming at local supply. This would offer greater resilience to individuals and the community in global crises situations when jobs and food supply are under threat.
We want to carry out research among our community including interest levels & skills in food growing so we could aim for satisfying a significant portion of growing fruit and vegetable demand and identifying buildings/spaces for stores & processing.
In a 2018 similar study, 40% of those not currently doing so, said they want to grow their own food and 47% of those that do, want to grow more.
Most popular reasons for not growing are (all chosen by 15% +)
No food growing space near me
Don't know how / lack of gardening skills
Don't have the time
Don't have the tools
Urban land is able to more than match commercial horticultural production https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200317130713.htm
Almost more important than identifying plots is the community support and cohesiveness which will see these growing projects supported into the future and not just become yet another example of “initiative-itis”, ultimately a waste of resources.
Local authorities are well placed to influence the local food system. As institutions they have a wide range of levers.
Local authorities can promote and protect land for food growing in the Local Plan: including allocation of land for ‘starter farms’; use of leases to enable food growing to take place when development is stalled; and the promotion of food growing in public places. Planning Advice Notes can illustrate good practice including food growing space in new developments, whilst the Core Strategy can include provision for the protection of high grade agricultural land.
Supplementary Planning Documents can restrict the development of fast food near schools. Healthy food shops and markets can be protected and encouraged in the Core Strategy and through Street Trading policies; whilst Section 106 Agreements can be used to request funds from fast food outlets to contribute to tackling obesity.
Some local authorities own large areas of land, including farms, allotments and housing estates. These can be managed in a way that enhances their contribution to a sustainable local food system. This might include encouraging low ecological impact production such as organic or pesticide free, protecting grade 1 and 2 agricultural land or mapping green and brownfield sites and making them available to local communities.
Local authorities procure large quantities of food across their settings including schools, parks, nurseries, care homes, community meals and leisure centres. This amounts to substantial buying power. With the adoption of minimum buying standards, this can drive demand for locally sourced, sustainable healthy food. Signing up to Soil Association Food for Life standards could be a useful demonstration of joined up thinking.
Food system infrastructure
Local authorities can maintain or create infrastructure such as processing facilities, storage facilities, wholesale markets, street trading, slaughterhouses etc. which can contribute to short food supply chains. Local authorities are responsible for waste management including food waste collections.
It is far from easy as independent partnerships to engage with local authorities or government but with a will on both sides there are the potential benefits to all parties. As a community benefit society we can bring organisation and funding for food system development and as a local authority or government, they can consider food in every department to the betterment of citizens due to joined up thinking.
So our community group can with public sector support
- Grow food
- Have it eaten in schools and homes
- Have Positive impact on Health, Jobs, Waste, Local Economy and Wellbeing
We hope to see efforts from public sector to support us soon.
Since our formation we have been searching for a viable modus operandi that achieved our objectives of joining up the food system and creating a new food culture in Angus but was manageable from the point of view of the time demanded of us all, As a group we are generally self employed or in small businesses that already demand so much from us.
The search was to try to find other groups in the same space who could amplify our efforts and we amplify theirs. As Brechin is our home area we got to know the Brechin Healthcare Group.
Brechin Healthcare Group (BHG) is a registered charity who wish to build on the resources of the community to improve the health and wellbeing of our community to enable us to be more resilient; better able to cope with the changes to local services; with less need for medical intervention both physically and mentally. There is a major land proposal in the town which will provide some opportunities for us both. So in partnership with BHG our vision is to have
There is a need for fresh produce to be available for everyone. But not just available; there is an education job to do to get folk using it and finding the benefit of it. So many projects are short-term, raise expectation, like the charrette and are not followed up. Folk need to get used to eating a healthy fresh produce diet. In addition in order to supply sufficient amounts of food there is the need for training in growing food for the amateurs all the way through to professional growers and the way to accomplish that is through a farm i.e. a community supported agriculture based farm. And linked to that the skills of baking, cooking, preserving, fermenting, freezing etc our food so that we are much more self-sufficient, healthier and less dependent on outside services. Resilience.
While we wait for the land proposal to make progress, we want to build skills and resources; a learning resource that will develop further in the bigger project.
The project aims to provide confidence to young people to enter the local food system which more highly values health, the environment and fairness of access.
In cooperation with many from our community and school, we will provide an experience which “opens up” sustainable production and consumption of food for each individual and the community. The objective will be better health and wellbeing with less pollution.
We will foster understanding of growing principles such as feeding the soil, encouraging wildlife, use of natural methods to control pests and diseases while teaching the practice of producing healthy fruit and vegetables.
If you or anyone you know is keen to be involved, then please contact us on email@example.com