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f3 director Simon Michaels also helps run award-winning @rmarketgarden. Latest venture is a successful market trial of winter salad crops. About 10 varieties of salad and stir fry crops are displayed in boxes of individual varieties, with customers creating their own mix, sold by weight. Everyone loves it and sales have been hot as mustard.
The aim of food planning is to ensure that our communities are healthy, that local economies benefit from a strong local network of food producers, distributors and retailers, and that our environment is safeguarded.
Managing this complex web of interactions requires good leadership and clarity of process. To meet this need, f3 have developed and piloted ’Our Food Plan Toolkit’. This provides guidance to help all those involved in the process of mapping, planning and taking practical steps forwards, with an effective participatory approach.
“Many thanks for this very impressive toolkit, which codifies an enormous stock of knowledge in a very user-friendly way..” Prof. Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University
f3 have carried out some research to try to find ‘hard evidence’ of the effectiveness of food plans. To date this kind of evidence is not strong. However, there good reporting on the diverse actions and initiatives that are part of a plan. Equally important is the ‘joined up thinking’ that gets generated between public health, economic development, education and parks officers, when meeting with community groups and businesses to discuss the local food economy; interesting and creative things start happening that help meet a wide range of aims and objectives.
The Store is the Core scheme provided one-to-one coaching, advisory support and training seminars more than 200 village and community retailers across south-west England from 2010-2013.
f3 has prepared an evaluation of the programme. For example, participating retailers saw turnover boosted by 9.4% on average.
The report also outlines challenges and opportunities for the future of village shops.
“National and local government may need to recognise the value of village shops not just to the local economy, but as a key part of the social fabric of rural life,” it said. “As such, preferential conditions in relation to business rates, tax relief, VAT, and rural transport may need to be created.”
Plans to restructure the Post Office network could have a very negative effect on shop viability and survival, the report adds.