Thursday 6 November 2014


Last Thursday 30th October Glasgow Local Food NetworkFederation of City Farms and Community Gardens and The Project Café organised a local food event aimed at growers and local cafe businesses.

The afternoon kicked off with a free trip to two market gardens – Urban Roots’ growing space in Toryglen and Locavore’s new 2.5 acre site in Neilston.  People had the chance to hear first hand how these market gardens were set up, and ask questions that might be relevant to upscaling their own growing projects. 

This was followed by an evening buffet, which was prepared by The Project Café using ingredients from 7 community gardens in the city:

35 people attended the buffet, and along with a chance to speak to other growers and businesses, there was also a pedal-powered cinema showing short films made by A Moment’s Peace.  Their project - I Could Eat a Horse - is a multi-artform project exploring the diverse relationships that individuals and communities have with food and the food industry.  Cyclists got first pick from a menu of 12 short films. It wasn't an easy task cycling on a full belly!

About 20 people stayed on to take part in the discussion about practical ways to connect local growers with local businesses. There were 4 short talks from the perspective of both producers and cafés: 

Reuben from Locavore
Eilidh from The Project Café
Stephen from Cyrenians Farm in Edinburgh

We heard about their aspirations and also the challenges of growing / sourcing local food. Some of the key issues explored in the discussion afterwards were:
  • Desire to build honest relationships between producers and catering businesses, and actually get growers and chefs together, but recognising time constraints and business priorities will make this difficult
  • Need to understand the challenges faced on both sides, particularly financial pressures.
  • Local growers have a brilliant story to tell which will attract customers, need to get that story out there!
  • Lack of transport infrastructure – how to get local produce to local businesses.  Kate Shaw spent at least a day co-ordinating produce list, collecting ingredients from the 7 gardens and delivering them to The Project Café for this one meal.
  • We talked about setting up a volunteer delivery scheme - with volunteers paid in café meals/veg bags - but there was a big questions mark around whether this is reliable or sustainable. Locavore uses the Oatcake (their own local currency) as a way of paying people to do deliveries, but it's not always possible to retain volunteers.
  • Need to overcome perception about high cost of organic local produce by circulating clear price lists to businesses and demonstrating that produce is high quality and tastier.
  • Catering businesses could also send wish lists to growers.
  • Need to acknowledge that some crops are more financially viable eg. it’s hard for small scale growers to compete with larger farms on the price of potatoes.  But the example of Locavore’s Urban Croft has shown that nano-growers could supply unusual salad and herb crops that are more expensive to buy through normal wholesalers.
  • Quality control is essential eg. salads would need to be washed in advance of supplying them to restaurants
Key actions we could take to improve local supply chain and achieve better connection between growers and catering businesses:
  • Face to face marketing of local produce to cafes, shops and restaurants
  • Weekly updates of produce available and prices
  • A reliable delivery scheme - creating a growers co-op might make this more financially viable
There are still many questions about how this would be co-ordinated, what resources are available to support marketing, transport and so on, but it was great to get the conversation started. 

Glasgow Local Food network is an entirely voluntary network with no paid staff, only the good will of various social enterprises, community organisations and volunteers. If you have any free time, resources (eg. a van) or relevant skills (eg. marketing) then get on touch!  

We’re looking for people who can help build a more sustainable local food economy through connecting growers to the retail/restaurant market.  Find us on Facebook or email: and ask to join the google group. 

We’re also proposing to have regular monthly meet ups at The Project Café to create an open space for discussing local food issues, sharing ideas and designing solutions.  More info to follow.

1 comment:

  1. After doing even thing in order to plan corporate events I was really not sure what food should I include in lunch but I think you will be able to help me. If that is possible for you please help me with few good suggestions.