Call for more collaboration

to boost local food

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Follow-up from the 'Developing a Local Food Business Network' for the Stirling region meeting, held November 12th 2019.

Over twenty different local food businesses gathered in Made in Stirling on November 12th to discuss the idea of a Local Food Business Network for the Stirling region. Attendees were from a variety of sectors within local food - production, processing, retail, and hospitality - as well as a variety of different sizes, stages and set-ups, including social enterprises and charities. 

The event, organised by the Local Food & Drink Coordinator, provided an opportunity for local food businesses to meet, hear from a successful local food business network (Food From Fife), and explore the potential of a collaborative group for local food businesses here in Stirling. 

The attendees heard from Martha Bryce, who outlined her experiences of 'Food From Fife' - a member-led local food business network. Food From Fife supports  local food producers, processors and providers to collectively promote food from the Fife region - as well as offering training, meet the buyer events, and a chance to network. 

In terms of exploring a Local Food Business Network for the region, the attendees worked in groups to brainstorm around the potential aims and activities of a Network, as well as flagging concerns. A summary of these discussions can be found below:

Potential Aims of a Network:

  • Connection – increase opportunities for networking, sharing, communication and peer-learning between businesses
  • Telling the story – raise awareness of local food, local producers, and why it matters (values)
  • Collaboration – increase opportunities to collaborate between businesses and with others - increase opportunities to cross-sell, value add, or share resources
  • Buy Local – make it easier to buy local, finding ways to prioritise buying local,increase food tourism

Potential activities of a Network:

  • Formalising & Branding – Formalising the Local Food Business Network or Association, branding?
  • Become self-sustaining – seed funding & support to start, structure, find other funds (council, members, etc)
  • Workshops, skills & sharing resources – skill-shares amongst members, workshops & webinars (photography, marketing, maps/tours, HR, funding), or pooling together for shared benefit, ie. marketing/PR resource
  • Networking & Website – regular networking events/meetings of the network, website for the network with directory
  • Food trails/tours – local food map, food cycling tour, Forth Valley Food Fest?
  • Campaigns – education to change values around food and raise awareness of local producers, ie with schools or other organisations 

Flagged Concerns:

  • Determining the criteria of the Network
  • Communicating the group messages well
  • Strengthening instead of duplicating work in the region
  • Sustainability of the Network - both financially and in terms of capacity (time)

As an outcome of this meeting, the Local Food & Drink Coordinator developed a bid for the Connect Local Regional Food Fund. The funding bid is for seed funding for the Network to develop and formalise itself over the next year - including engaging with other food businesses, detemining aims and structure, and deciding and implementing early actions. The outcome of the funding bid should be known by the end of January 2020.

The next steps for the fledgling Network, and the outcome of the funding bid, will be discussed at the next Local Food Business Meeting in late January. If you're a local food business interested in finding out more, please come along. Or, contact the Local Food & Drink Coordinator, Ashley Robinson (Robinsona @ stirling.gov.uk) for more info. 

The next Local Food Business Meeting will be held on January 28th, at the lesser hall in the Albert Halls - from 13:00 - 15:30. 

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