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
Speeches in Scottish Parliament on Scotland's Food & Drink Strategy 14/9/17
It is an absolute pleasure and delight to take part in this debate on food and drink, because it is impossible to talk about this sector and not to be excited by all the opportunities.
As a councillor with Angus Council, I had responsibility for economic development for the local authority, with the pleasure of working with the team that Graeme Dey mentioned—Alison Smith and Hilary Tasker—to encourage people and businesses to visit, invest in and live in the region. A massive part of that work was to promote and sell the best of our products to the rest of Scotland and beyond, such as Glencadam whisky, from my home town of Brechin, and the Forfar bridie, which I described to a foreign audience as a meaty puff of heaven. If anybody has still not tried one and would like to do so, please contact me and I will sort you out. I now represent part of Aberdeenshire and have even more to shout about in that region. We have, quite simply, some of the best produce to be found anywhere in the world, and that is why I welcome the motion.
I would like to focus on what we can do locally, within our communities, to strengthen local food supply chains. Although international markets are, of course, vitally important, we have to strengthen the links between our farmers, fishermen and primary producers and our communities, making local products far more readily available and easy to find, so that people know about and choose local produce.
That has been the ambition of an innovative collective launched last year in Angus called the Food Life. It is a group of farmers, retailers, food vendors and educators that aims to promote the produce of the region to those who live there and to visitors. The group promotes not just the products but our health and the encouragement of a healthier way of life. To do that, it educates and conducts pilot schemes and research. We cannot consider food just in terms of our rural economy alone; it feeds into many areas. Health is a vital part of that, and I am glad that health has been mentioned a few times today. We could do more to make those links clearer. I was pleased to hear Rhoda Grant’s points about food banks, to make sure that people who can least afford food and who have to use food banks have access to fresh healthy local produce.
As well as holding its own markets and food events, the Food Life looks at how to connect businesses to the local food supply chain. I was glad to hear some of the issues that Brian Whittle raised, because one massive stumbling block in achieving that has been the procurement process. Local companies with healthy, fresh offerings can reach a block when trying to provide their product to, say, local schools, and more needs to be done to address that. I welcome some of the comments that the cabinet secretary made in his opening statement. We should be making it easier for local food producers to get their products into our communities and through the barriers that exist in local authorities, arms-length organisations and the NHS.
We cannot talk about the importance of the food and drink sector without talking about some of the challenges that we face with Brexit. There is the rural development programme, which is worth £1.3 billion to Scotland, not to mention the importance of the European maritime and fisheries fund to coastal communities. With those funding streams guaranteed only for the immediate future, we need to know what will come in their place. We also need to know what will happen if we are not in the single market or the customs union. How will that affect getting our product to the market?
Beyond that is the issue that hangs over the EU citizens who come to work in various areas in food and drink, because it is a sector that needs people. In Angus alone, more than half of all people who work in the agricultural sector are expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. We need high levels of new entrants just to maintain the employment levels at the moment, let alone what we could need further down the line.
We are all lucky to be here representing constituencies and a country that are home to some of the best produce in the world. We have the product and the ambition is there; we just need to navigate some of the coming political obstacles to make this a real success.
Earlier this week, I visited Grewar’s farm shop in my constituency to mark this year’s Scottish food and drink fortnight. It was a very appropriate choice. The word “innovation” features repeatedly in the “Ambition 2030” strategy, and Grewar’s is a farm business that epitomises innovation.
In October 2014, Grewar’s installed its first vending machine at East Ardler farm to answer local demand for its potatoes. Customers, utilising an accompanying suggestion box, were quick to ask for a wider variety of fresh produce direct from the farm, so carrots, onions, broccoli and free-range eggs were quickly sourced from neighbours, friends and family to broaden the range. Three further vending machines were installed, at Dronley farm, where the shop was established in 2015, and in the Overgate shopping centre in Dundee and the St John’s shopping centre in Perth.
For me, the best bit is that the farm shop, which also offers a range of Scottish craft gins, vodkas and beers, makes an absolute virtue of the food miles that are travelled by the products on sale, providing a distance breakdown for each of the many items, which have been sourced from within a 20-mile radius. Those who visit Grewar’s know that they are not just buying top-quality Scottish produce but supporting local businesses and sourcing products that have not travelled many tens, or indeed hundreds, of miles or, worse still, left Scotland to be packaged before being returned here.
Another innovator, or entrepreneur if you like, in my constituency is Kim Cameron, the driving force behind the Gin Bothy and Cider Bothy products. The strategy talks of the need for collaboration. Kim initially bought in gin from a business in Perth, but she is now working with Graeme Jarron of Ogilvy Spirits, which is based in nearby Glamis, to produce her own base spirit and has expanded the business to establish the Bothy Larder on the outskirts of Kirriemuir, where visitors can experience gin tasting in a bothy setting, with all the traditional trappings.
Grewar’s and Kim Cameron are not resting on their laurels. Mirroring the ambition of the strategy, both have plans to expand and in so doing tap into the tourism market. Scotland is blessed with many such innovators in the food and drink sector, and I am sure that, as the afternoon unfolds, we will be reminded of that in the contributions from colleagues.
Of course, however, innovation often needs to be enabled, and I want to acknowledge the role of national and local government in that. Scotland Food & Drink, my colleague Richard Lochhead, who served as rural affairs secretary in the previous session of Parliament, and now Fergus Ewing deserve enormous credit for facilitating the growth of the sector. However, I also place on the record my appreciation of the work that is done in my constituency by Angus Council officials Alison Smith and Hilary Tasker, who have not only facilitated but driven the boom in food and drink there.
The latest manifestation of the council’s support for the county’s food and drink offering is the taste of Angus food charter, which aims to promote the use of local food through cafes and restaurants, public bodies, community groups, shops and individuals. It sets out to support local food and drinks businesses and farmers to create a healthier food culture in Angus, resulting in the availability of higher-quality and tastier food for residents and visitors alike. Anyone can sign up. All that they need to do is pledge to make small or large changes in the food that they buy, sell, cook or eat, thereby strengthening among other things the local economy, shorter supply chains and environmental sustainability.
The strategy talks of the need to unlock the sector’s potential by looking outwards and inwards. We are going great guns in Angus in terms of businesses that are selling beyond Scotland—in some cases, well beyond Europe—but, alongside that, we are seeking to raise awareness closer to home of what is on offer on our doorstep. With the tourism boost that is expected to follow the opening of the V&A in Dundee, we are gearing up to ensure that visitors to Angus are sampling the best of our food and drink offering, with all the spin-off benefits that that could have.
We are also meeting the continuing challenges that are noted in the document around deepening collaboration, diversifying markets and customer bases, supporting resilience in the sector and driving forward sustainability. Achieving the growth ambitions of the strategy will require all parts of Scotland and every sector to raise their game still further. Angus is ready to do that.
News Release issued by The Food Life
Friday 15th September 2017
The Food Life to hold AGM in a Polytunnel
The Food Life (“TFL”), a cross sectoral partnership of growers, farmers, processors, retailers, restaurants, chefs and food trucks attempting to join up the food system in Angus, is to hold its first AGM on Wed 20th Sept at 7pm in a polytunnel based at the Ashbrook Nursery in Arbroath.
Anne Thomson, TFL ‘s research director, explained.
”We are a wide group of people interested in improving the access to local healthy food in Angus. Having gained support from Angus Leader funding we are keen to build the resources of the group, develop networking and events based around Angus food.
TFL is striving to make the Angus food system work for the good of everyone, businesses and ordinary people alike. The AGM provides a chance for new people to get involved and for us to share our news and activities from the past year and appoint board members.
We often ask ourselves what we can do about the lack of healthy nutritious local food. It affects the lives of everyone in our community, young and old, rich and poor. The Food Life is a movement of people trying to encourage an alternative to what is happening now. We aim to get good, local, seasonal food widely available and affordable to all; in our schools, in the workplace and in our homes.”
Anne went on to say, ”Currently we are running a series of networking events at various venues around Angus.
We plan to make access to local good food easier by communicating where local good food is available. A particular target is to reduce the vast quantity of food wasted each year in our fields and in our homes by finding it a proper use as meals for people.
We are particularly grateful for the support we have received from Angus Leader Programme towards our Project Organiser and we look forward to working with them over the longer term to promote Angus food more widely”.
Information for editors
Members of The Food Life have been working together for the last 18 months on a series of events around Angus, including last year’s traffic stopping Easthaven Beach Launch event and the Arbroath Community Picnic event.
Chaired by Jillian McEwan, founder of FreshFoodExpress.co.uk, members currently include, Arbroath Quality Fish, Ella Drinks, Gather Greengrocers and Sacred Grounds Coffee Co.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The FCA acknowledges the registration of The Food Life (Scotland) Limited under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 as a Community Benefit Society, number: 7510.
Notice of Annual General Meeting
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting for the Members of The Food Life (Scotland) Limited (the Society) will be held on Wednesday 20th September 2017 at the Ashbrook Nursery, Forfar Rd, Arbroath DD11 3RB at 7pm.
To consider, and if thought fit, approve the following ordinary resolutions:
1. To receive the Chair’s report and Balance Sheet for the present date.
2. To elect the board
3. To appoint such officers as the Board deems appropriate
By Order of the Board
Kathryn Helen Baker Society Secretary
A superb opportunity to shape the future of The Food Life through events which create new connections across the food system and which allow us to network with others also looking to improve our food culture, please come along to
Date & Time
Sept 4th 2017
Sacred Grounds, Unit 15, Arbroath Business Centre
31 Dens Road
Arbroath DD11 1RS
T: 0780 880 6610
Lower Greenhillock, Kirkbuddo, Forfar DD8 2NL
T: 07538 819058
Oct 2nd 2017
Newton Farm Holidays
Newton of Fothringham Farm, Inverarity, Forfar DD8 2JU
T: 01307 820229
Oct 16th 2017
Ella Drinks, Wandershiell, Aldbar, By Brechin DD9 6SY
T: 01356 623115
Please book on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-food-life-get-togethers-tickets-37092105486
Anyone want more insight, contact Anne or Hilary