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

 provost and pumpkins

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 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.

foodassembly theo sarah

Summer Picnic Invite

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!


Fresh Local Food At Your Fingertips

The first ‘mini farm shop’ vending machine is to be unveiled in Stirling this week during a ten day trial at Forth Valley College.
The ‘Get Ready for Local Food’ project, which is part of the Grow Forth Network and run by environmental charity Forth Environment Link, is on a mission to make local food more available and accessible to local people. Stirling has a wealth of food businesses producing a wide range of produce. This scheme is a way to promote what is on our doorstep and get food from Stirling on to plates in Stirling.
The vending machine will house a broad variety of local products from different producers and will be located in Forth Valley College‘s Stirling Campus. 
Nikki Kenn, Business Project Officer for ‘Get Ready for Local Food’ said:
“The machine works just as a normal vending machine, but unlike those you will be familiar with, this one will offer you products such as fresh hand baked bread, locally grown vegetables, free range eggs, local honey and more. 
“We know that a lot of people love visiting farm shops to buy local produce but not everyone has easy access to them as they tend to be further afield. With the local food vending machine we are offering a mini farm shop in the city.” 
The pilot scheme aims to connect more consumers with their local producers and, if successful, could see mini farm shops pop up across the city. The vending machines provide a real opportunity to showcase Stirling’s larder and could play a vital role in supporting and promoting local business. 
This pilot project would not be possible without the support of Forth Valley College and their commitment to promoting local food.   
Commenting on the scheme, Ype van der Schaaf, Chef Manager – Hospitality & Salon Services:
“Forth Valley College (FVC) is delighted to be involved in the first trials of the local food vending machine. We recognise that we have an important part to play in supporting local food producers. Our procurement guidelines often make it harder to see local food reflected on our menus so by supporting the vending machine pilot we are getting local produce to market in a very unique way. 
"FVC has a strong commitment to fresh, local food and we see this as another way of connecting with our community and getting them thinking about the food they eat and where it comes from. Throughout 2016 and beyond we will continue to work with Forth Environmental Link's Grow Forth team and others to ensure that we tackle the barriers and misconceptions around local food. ”
Forth Environment Link has been working over the last year with local food businesses and communities to respond to the growing demand for fresh local produce.   Similar vending machines are already being used in different locations in Scotland, principally by farming businesses to provide direct access to their fresh produce. The Stirling scheme is exciting because it takes the farm shop approach and offers a wide range of products.  
Stuart Retson, from Vending by JSR, who is supplying the trial vending machine, commented:
“We are increasingly seeing  vending machines being ordered from all over the UK, specifically to offer local and fresh produce. Our fresh food vending machines come in all shapes and sizes and can be refrigerated depending on specific needs.  We feel the interest in them is as a direct response to people looking for alternatives to how they shop.” 
The producers participating in the scheme include:
J.Burnett and Sons, Camphill Blairdrummond, Tullibody Community Garden, Green Routes, Gartmore and honey from John Coyle, Kippen.
For anyone interested in finding out more about accessing local food can join in the conversation ‘Stirling Local Food Collective’ Facebook  group where information about sourcing local food and events is being shared. 

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!



harvest window card for web

Celebrate Stirling's local harvest during
Harvest Fortnight!

Saturday 10 October – Sunday 25 October


Soup Seeds

Industry Event set to Savour Stirling


With 2015 - the VisitScotland Year of Food and Drink on our doorstep, Destination Stirling and Forth Environment Link are rallying local food and drink business and tourism partners to attend the Savour Stirling Event, this November.
The high profile event will provide networking opportunity for local food and tourism businesses to meet local food producers from the area, taste samples of produce, prepared by the Forth Valley College Catering Students and to explore the business benefits of sourcing locally.  
The event is part of a joint initiative across the region and aims to encourage local food and drink businesses to source produce that is local to them. It is also an opportunity to engage the next generation of food and drink ambassadors at Forth Valley College. This event is part of a larger project to improve the overall food and drink offering through increasing awareness, innovation and engagement.
 Neil Forbes Savour Stirling
Keynote speak Neil Forbes is one of Scotland's most passionate chefs who describes cooking as an "emotional experience that uses all the senses". Neil is joined in his kitchen by a team of equally passionate chefs who can't wait to see what will be delivered each day, and what they can create from it.  They pride themselves on producing everything in-house using ingredients sourced from local producers and suppliers.
Neil is Catering in Scotland’s ‘Chef of the Year’ 2014, was Scottish Restaurant Awards ‘Chef of the Year’ in 2011, he is a member of the Slow Food UK Chef Alliance and his restaurant holds Sustainable Restaurant Association 3-star champion status.  He regularly demonstrates his skills at a broad range of events across the UK as well as appearing on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kitchen Cafe. He writes a recipe column in the Scotsman’s Weekend Life magazine.
Barkers Highland BeefDuring the event there will also be short seminars from both the business and suppliers perspective. Speakers include VisitScotland, and Hilary Barker from Barkers Highland Beef.
Geoff Morrison, Destination Manager for Destination Stirling says “The Year of Food and Drink is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate our rich and varied local larder, working in partnership with local businesses to ensure an authentic and memorable experience for our visitors”  
Commenting on the event, Clara Walker, Forth Environment Link’s  Executive Director, said: “We are passionate about celebrating local food and how it can benefit us as individuals, as businesses and from an environmental point of view. Savour Stirling is a great opportunity to think, taste and champion local food. 
“We hope it will bring together the wider food community in Forth Valley to build a platform from which we can all ‘get ready for local’.”Savour stirling Logo
The exciting event is supported by Scottish Enterprise and the Community Food Fund, which is financed by The Scottish Government and has been created to promote local food and drink, in line with Scotland’s National Food and Drink Policy.
The Savour Stirling event is on the 20th of November, 2.30pm to 5.30pm, at Forth Valley College. Businesses can register online for free.