I am still defrosting after spending the morning in a draughty barn at the local farmers market. I am a volunteer with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and am the sole volunteer responsible for their local food work. I had a stall at a number of farmers markets in Cheshire over the summer, handing out leaflets and gathering nominations for a ‘Buy Local’ food awards we have been running.
This time I was helping with a project that is being piloted round the country called Mapping Local Food Webs. It sounds confusing and it is quite – but in brief it’s researching and documenting the relationships between farmer/producer, retailer and customer, and if there are any challenges. If you’re interested more information can be found at http://www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk/.
The pilot project in the North West is being centred around Knutsford (if you’re reading this and from Knutsford (!) and are interested in getting involved please leave me a comment). We had a great map of Knutsford and the surrounding area of about a 15 miles radius. We asked people to put a coloured sticky dot on the map to show us where they had come from. It was really interesting to see where people had travelled from – from the really local who had walked down the road, to those who had travelled over 15 miles and had to stick their coloured dot on the edge of the map.
For me, I consider ‘local food’ to be food that is grown/produced within about 10 miles of where I live. Nationally I believe it is defined as food that is produced within 30 miles of you, which is actually quite a distance if you look at it on a map. It was a pretty quiet market today, the first of the year, but we are aiming to go back in a month when it should be back to its busy self, and hopefully the map will come with us and we should start to build up a really interesting picture of where people travel from to visit the market.