We aimed to bring local food onto local plates by identifying and overcoming barriers. This initiative built upon a previous study that revealed widespread support for eating local in the area, with cost and convenience being the main obstacles. Our project was also influenced by the significant online meetings held in 2020, addressing the heightened concerns about the cost of living and food security resulting from war, climate change, and trade disruptions.
Our primary focus was on eateries, conducting studies to understand their utilization of local ingredients and their desire to incorporate more. We engaged small-scale producers in the region, involving them in the research and discussing how our funding could assist them.
The outcomes of these studies significantly influenced our work. The market study findings were utilized as evidence in applications and appeals to facilitate planning permission for new vegetable growers. This study also uncovered a substantial unmet demand for local vegetables, highlighting a tremendous potential market.
In response to the requests from growers, we organized and delivered a series of six courses, including “Growing Microgreens for small spaces.” Additionally, we offered two ten-week beginners gardening courses in different towns, which were relevant to anyone interested in gardening.
In 2022, two new organic market gardens were established in the hinterland of Newport. Although the planning process caused some delays, they eventually began supplying local food outlets and were featured in the Newport Autumn Food Festival. The production from these gardens has experienced significant growth in 2023.
Our growers’ group continues to thrive, hosting monthly meetings and maintaining online conversations. This platform allows members to seek advice, share surpluses, exchange equipment, extend invitations to events, and request assistance when needed. This ongoing collaboration effectively meets the needs of the growers and fosters a supportive community.