Urban Growing

The Community Farm explores the effects of COVID-19 on Bristol’s local food system

By The Community Farm

The Community Farm has curated “Lessons From Lockdown”, a collection of 15 articles that describe how the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic affected people involved with food, wildlife, local economies and social outreach in the local area. The aim is to explore what the outbreak exposed about our food system and the systems it intersects.

Knowledge shared in the collection – including business and personnel strategies, focus group results, personal experiences and market analysis – will help food-based businesses and organisations to thrive now and in the event of a potential future lockdown. Insights and lingering questions are identified that should help smaller, independent players navigate this exceptional period of socio-economic upheaval.

Contributors to “Lessons From Lockdown” include employees and volunteers affiliated with the Soil Association, Grow Wilder (formally Feed Bristol), Better Food,  EcoWild, Poco Tapas Bar and The Community Farm itself. Joy Carey, strategic coordinator of Bristol Going for Gold contributed a piece that originally appeared on this blog, about core principles on which to build food system resilience.

The Community Farm is a community-owned social enterprise, growing and selling locally sourced and organic food through a veg box delivery service. More than 500 local people share ownership of The Farm and have a say in how it is run. The Community Farm’s profits are used to provide learning experiences for local children, adults and vulnerable people, including the “Grow and Make” therapeutic horticulture course and longstanding on-site partnerships with organisations like EcoWild and EarthWise.

The Community Farm’s Managing Director, Kim Brooks, contributed an article to the collection that investigates the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s food supply chains – a topic of particular concern to The Community Farm given that demand for their organic veg boxes more than doubled within the first month of lockdown. Brooks said:

“I’m so thankful to this diverse group of people for taking the time to collect their thoughts and create this time capsule. It provides great insight into not only the impact of the pandemic, but our daily choices as ‘investors’ in our food system. Now we have an opportunity to learn from this time, and, as Sarah Pitt says in her article, “care about the local little things, and let the changes ripple out”.”

A PDF of “Lessons From Lockdown” is available to download now from The Community Farm’s website.

Visit Bristol Food Network for more information and resources on Bristol’s good food response to the pandemic.

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