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Local food working group meeting Fri 18th May 1pm

As a result of our meeting on the 5th of May a group is forming to take forward the agenda of making local and regional food more available locally and build local resilience through food initiatives.

The first meeting of the group will take place at the TWIG shop bottom of Hamlet Court Road (next to Nat West) Fri 18th May 1pm. Please email Matt at chiefexec@trustlinks.org to confirm you are coming so they know how many tea bags to prepare:)

If you cannot come but would like to be kept up to date with the work or come to the next meeting please also email Matt to add you to the mailing list.

Below is the write up from the planning day 5th May for a Southend Food Coop

Thank you all who came and those so sent in words of support.

We had a good number of people from various organisation, projects and local residents interested in the issues of local food in Southend. The idea for that day was to get a feel about what the people attending are interested in regards of local food and see if their interests converge so they could join up and work together on projects and support each other. A type of warm up session so afterwards a working group/s could be formed to continue the work.

We started off with enjoying a conversation over the shared food brought to Transition Potluck – I think no one could be disappointed with the variety of dishes from chard and potato burgers through to bean salads, humus, home made bread and buns and sweets at the end. As usually I could not stop myself from having seconds:)

I then gave some context to the meeting by briefly discussing Transition Towns, the challenges of peak oil, climate change and economic crisis and the work communities are doing to increase local resilience.

We went on to introduce each other and talk in pairs what brought us to the meeting. We highlighted the work and projects in Southend which are already working towards increasing the availability and diversity of local food growing, production and retail.

The session was facilitated through use of post it notes, grouping and discussions afterwards.

We set ourselves some rules to know what we can expect from each other and people wanted
strongly to be :1) positive, encouraging, innovative, dynamic 2) listen to ideas, be collaborative allowing diversity 3) have a chair/facilitator or talking stick to allow everyone an equal say.

Answers to the question “What difference would you like to make?” (re local food):

1)re-vitalise local corner shops, strong local economy, resilient local food network, local resilience, provide outlet were exchange can take place, make Southend and Essex proud of food it produces, encourage and develop local growing and exchange network information and projects

2)bring like minded people together, be cooperative, social, not compete nor replicate but work together, synergy, build community, encourage creativity and talent, reduce waste, build community and healthier food 3)volunteer up to 4 hrs a week in the food coop, growing chard and spinach for food coop/veg boxes, a community bakery using natural ingredients, locally sourced

4)make good food affordable to local people, use local food that is otherwise left to rot ie apples

5)behaviour change/choice, improve people’s health and well-being, train people up in growing their own, create interest and excitement in children about food growing, cooking, eating,

Answers to the questions “What could possibly done to achieve that?” (practical projects
and actions we already have or you would like to work on)

1)website/marketing, promotion of local foods to link in with tourisms, use national market day to promote local food together, seasonal celebrations eg. Apple Weekend, Seed Potato Day,Develop further Southend Food Growers and producers – mind map in progress, places that use local produce? Squeeze L-o-s,

2)teaching, re skilling, teach people to cook, build training programme in all aspects of food
production and selling – veg growing, local honey, permaculture etc, give children seeds and a pot (easy things eg. Radish, cress etc) and tell them they can bring to TWIG shop and sell for 50p. There are nearly 600 children at Milton Hall streetwise and would like pocket money – really good to encourage economic well being and future freedom from benefits

3)Venue, selling, making, find venue for a shop, sustain TWIG shop as dedicated local Essex
food shop and hub, planning the coop, where, when, how and what, local veg bag scheme, collating veg (and maybe other food producers) building on Growing Toegther’s existing scheme and getting food from other local community projects to run throughout the year?

4)Create a kitchen that start up businesses can use to produce, jams, chutney, preserves
etc., food waste from restaurant, cafes etc, planning a bakery where, when what and how, add whole food element to existing food projects, identify some trees – identify anyone who would like to do some picking, I will volunteer to farm, cook, wash up, drop veg off, work in shop etc. 4 hours a week

The above configurations could have been different as different people have seen different links but they helped to get our thinking going.

A conversation ensued clarifying points around local food, affordable food and what people would to work on. Helen is continuing work on planning the community bakery and what shape it could take, Ian is interested in the idea of some type of Coop and some of the interest was pointing towards developing the existing Trust Links/TWIG shop/veg bag scheme and a
working group meeting at the shop is planned to see in what way it could be progressed by those involved.

We discussed that the existing structures and projects could be worked with or a new website/project could be worked on examples and possible links.

Source of produce






Southend ie. Trust Links


Trust Links veg bag






TWIG shop




Wholesale, bulk buy




At events


Lessons learned from the meeting: there is a strong interest in the idea of local food but at the same time people see sometimes different ways to achieve the aim of developing a strong local food culture and economy. Hopefully those attending found it useful to their work and the food for thought will inspire new ventures and collaborations. Collaboration is not necessarily easy as we all come with our own ideas up and there are some similarities but also differences which need to be clarified so thank you for your patience.

Matt from Trust Links is happy to host another meeting to see if there is interest in forming
a working group for the further development of the existing Trust Links/veg bag/TWIG shop scheme.

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