STIRLING’S HUGE APPETITE FOR LOCAL FOOD
Stirling’s first online farmers’ market has achieved a record amount of sales, making it the most successful launch of a Food Assembly in mainland Britain.
In its first week alone, Stirling Food Assembly – which allows locals to shop online for seasonal produce from a range of local farmers and producers – attracted 101 orders of local produce equating to over £2200 in sales.
Stirling-based charity Forth Environment Link, which hosts the Food Assembly, has been blown away by the opening market’s success.
Forth Environment Link’s Director, Clara Walker said: “We are delighted that the people of Stirling are so keen to support their local farmers and producers by shopping local. This is great news for the local economy, for the farmers and producers who get a fair price for their product and get to keep over 80% for every item sold, for local people who can now get their hands on the best, freshest local produce available and for the environment by cutting down food miles and food waste. We can’t wait to do it all again next week!”
Shopping local also means supporting the work of Forth Environment Link, which receives a small percentage of sales from the market. The charity's 8.5% share will be reinvested in existing community initiatives that aim to increase access to affordable, local, healthy food. Projects such as Grow Forth and Forth Valley Orchards, which encourage people to grow, cook and eat local food, will be the first to benefit.
More than 700 local people have now signed up for Stirling Food Assembly and the eco-friendly scheme is already attracting more producers including Katy Rodgers, who will be offering a variety of dairy produce including milk straight from their Fintry-based dairy in refillable glass bottles.
This week's orders will be delivered to Stirling Cycle Hub, by Stirling Train Station, on Thursday 6 October. Shoppers can collect their goodies from 4.30-6.30pm.
To register for Stirling Food Assembly visit: Stirling Food Assembly
Stirling-based charity Forth Environment Link is set to launch the city’s first ever Food Assembly on Thursday 29 September, an eco-friendly initiative which allows local people to shop online for seasonal produce from a range of local farmers and producers.
The scheme, which originates from France, aims to connect shoppers with the people who make or grow food in their local area. Most of the food sold at the Stirling Food Assembly will come from our area some within a couple of miles of the city, compared to an average of 600 miles with a supermarket.
Once Stirling Food Assembly is live, registered shoppers will be able to log on to browse the local produce on offer, add items to their online basket and collect their shopping from Stirling Cycle Hub, by Stirling Train Station, on a Thursday evening from 4.30pm-6.30pm.
The Assembly will reduce food miles and food waste at the same time, according to Forth Environment Link Project Co-ordinator Emily Harvey: “We hope that this new kind of food shopping will connect people better with the seasons, their local food producers and their environment, growing their appreciation of the real value of food. It is free to sign up and you can shop as often or little as you like. Farmers and producers will deliver their weekly orders in person, so locals will still get the chance to meet the people behind their food like Stirling’s traditional, monthly farmers’ market. The difference being that shoppers will be able to see what produce is available in advance, allowing them to plan meals for the week ahead which will help prevent food waste. Pre-orders also mean less risk for the farmer and producer.”
By choosing to buy local produce, Assembly users will also be boosting the Stirling economy as Emily explained: “The Assembly ensures food producers get a fair price for every product sold. Our food producers will keep over 80% of sales for every product compared to 15-25% through supermarkets.”
There are currently three other Food Assemblies in Scotland. Leith Food Assembly member Stan Blackley said: “I shop at The Food Assembly because I value knowing where the food I eat has come from. It’s a joy to be able to meet the actual people who’ve grown, raised or produced the food you’re buying, and to build up a personal relationship of trust, respect and even friendship with them. By shopping at The Food Assembly, I get to know exactly where my food has come from, and who and what has been involved in getting it to me, and I can support small businesses, entrepreneurs and the local economy by eating fresh, quality, local produce.”
More than 200 local people have already signed up for the Stirling Food Assembly and the initiative has been warmly received by food blogger and food educator Nikki Reid from Alloa: “Traditionally produced, local food meets new age techy convenience – I love it! The real beauty of the Stirling Food Assembly for me is that I can pick up my goods straight after work, due to the allocated evening collection times, and I don’t have to worry about having cash on me – or overspending – which keeps my budget in check. The Assembly will give me access to local produce without the need to attend multiple markets (which are usually held during working hours) and also allow me to make a commitment to my customers that, wherever possible, produce used within my cook classes will be local. Something I feel very strongly about!”
Forth Environment Link has been busy bringing local producers and farmers on board to ensure a wide range of foodstuffs such as freshly baked breads, preserves, cheeses and cakes will be available when Stirling Food Assembly launches later this month.
One of the first producers to sign up is Théo Laffargue, Baker and Director of the Stirling’s community supported Riverside Bakery: “Our team are passionate advocates for a re-imagined Scottish food system that breaks down barriers between producers and consumers. A system that has thriving farmers and food producers at its centre, builds vibrant communities and produces food for people that is ecologically and socially just. Our bakery is run for and by the local community, we co-produce the bread together. Joining the Stirling Food Assembly will help strengthen our local food network and help make our handmade bread available to the wider Stirling community.”
The first Stirling Food Assembly will take place on Thursday 29 September at 4.30pm at Stirling Cycle Hub, where locals will be able to meet farmers and food makers, taste local food samples and see where their food comes from – as well as collect their first order.
Forth Environment Link is urging locals who want to buy at the first market to register for the Stirling branch on www.foodassembly.com by Thursday 22 September. As an incentive to sign up early, the charity is giving away a hamper of local goodies to one lucky customer at the launch event.
Fierce Valley Roller Derby Gals – Took the Food Waste Challenge.Jam that!
The Fierce Valley Roller Derby Gals took our Food Waste Challenge over the Christmas holidays...Big thanks to the team for helping us squash food waste...and reduce our collective carbon emissions. In March the Gals will take off their skates to learn how to make planters from recycled wood with Stirling Low Carbon Future and then how to grow their own food with Grow Forth – and our growing expert Captain Relentless!
Telling Your Story
We had a great turnout our Telling Your Story workshop with 17 delegates arriving to learn story telling skills and understand the value their story can have to the success of their local food business.
Delegates ranged from farmers, to restaurant owners, brewers, caterers, bakers, preserve businesses, farm shop owners and many more! This meant that the range of stories and experience was wide and very interesting!
In addition to skills and inspiration, delegates went away with new connections and a feeling that they were part of a network of food businesses who shared many similar values, challenges.
Theo: I realised today that any kind of story we tell is always part of a bigger, broader story. Talking about sourdough I realised that what I really like about it is being part of a ‘movement’, being part of something bigger.
Marilena: I learnt how important it is to people to know the story behind the business. I realise how important telling the story is now.
Sara: It’s been good to reflect on my own story, say it out loud and watch the way somebody reacts to it. It takes you out of the current issues and back to the core of why you do what you do. Sharing stories, we looked at the strengths we have, our bravery, and something enviable – but I forget that sometimes. We learn things about ourselves.
Ruth: It is essential to be able to tell your story – this workshop has helped with the structure to do so. Also great networking!
The Grow Forth team were delighted with the success of their promotional campaign the Harvest Fortnight. Over ten of our local food producers and restaurants took part in the campaign bringing together two seasonal products; the versatile pumpkin (much more than just a lantern) and the humble apple.
It was Arnprior Farms first year growing pumpkins and by opening the farm up to a ‘Pick Your Own Pumpkins’ event, they sold out and are now planning to add an additional two acres next year. Our local schools got involved too - Allans Primary School took a class out to the Arnprior Pick Your Own Pumpkins event followed by pumpkin soup tasting, pumpkin seed tasting and then they all made pumpkin pies.
There were many great stories from this campaign, in fact too many to mention!
“At the Balfron Incredible Edible Harvest Festival, we collected their produce and made some goodies for them to give out as samples .There is so much going on in the local area and it is an honour to be involved in such a movement” Alchemists Kitchen – Ruth and Norelle
“It was a good introduction to accessing local produce. It was the first time I have spoken directly to a producer, and actually stood in a field where the produce is grown. I would like to take that further and access other producers and growers” Sara – Sprinklehappiness
We do feel, however, that the key success of this campaign was getting everyone involved from communities, to businesses and individuals, with gastronomic gusto! It further championed our aim of getting more local food onto local people’s dinner plates!
Saturday 10 October – Sunday 25 October