Transition Town Faversham

From oil dependence to local resilience

From Field to Fork: Faversham

The Campaign to Protect Rural have just published a fantastic report ‘From Field to Fork: Faversham’ about the local food web of Faversham.

The report is a heartening read; there is so much to be proud of within the town and surrounding area!

Key Facts about Faversham’s Local Food:

  • Local food is abundant and accessible in Faversham – there is a huge amount of food grown locally to Faversham.
  • There is a strong public demand for local food. 39 outlets out of 58 sell local food in Faversham. Annual sales of local food are estimated at £1.2-2.8 million!
  • Local food supports local jobs. The report estimates that about 160 jobs are supported by the sales of local food in the Faversham area. In addition to this there are a further 250 jobs supported at the suppliers.
  • Food contributes to the character and identity of our town. People are proud of Faversham’s local produce.
  • The quality and freshness of local food is the main reason people buy local food. People also like the personal service they receive from local businesses.
  • Local food strengthens our community. When people shop at local food businesses they talk to the producers. They also talk to people they know or neighbours whilst in town shopping locally.
  • The town is aware of its local farming heritage and so local food contributes to a sense of community and belonging. 
  •  Local food businesses use other local businesses – local hardware shops, local solicitors, local accountants etc.
  • Local food businesses have a strong commitment to saving energy and reducing waste. There is often less packaging and waste from local food businesses.

It is great to see so many local shops, producers and residents featured or named in the report. Transition Town Faversham are proud to note that many of our members volunteered to be interviewed for this project and many of them were also featured in the case studies of the report. We would like to draw particular attention to Bridget Neame and her month of eating locally featured on Pages 10 and 25 of the report. The Group is also delighted to be featured as a case study in itself on Page 9 of the report. You can find out more about our Food Group here. Looking to the future, the report gives recommendations to different groups within the town. These are summarised below.

Key Recommendations:

Swale Borough Council should ensure strong and effective local planning policies are in place to:

  • Maintain and strengthen Faversham’s retail diversity through a clear ‘town centre first’ approach to develop the vitality and vibrancy of the centre.
  • Ensure the need for new retail space is objectively assessed using independent evidence.
  • Set an appropriate size threshold for new stores above which they will be assessed for their impact on the town centre, on the economy of the rural area and on local food production.
  • Support the growth of new local food outlets such as the farmer’s market, the community gardening and the allotments.

 The public sector, including local councils, schools, and hospitals, should buy more sustainable local produce.

Local food business should work together to:

  • Improve the marketing of local food so shoppers can identify local food and understand its benefits.  The follwing would help: trying to overcome perceptions that shopping at local food businesses costs more, offering more information on who produced the food, where and how, holding local food tastings and events, developing ‘local’ brands.
  • Explore and support local food initiatives to reduce costs and increase access to local food, such as co-operating to form a local food distribution hub. 

The community should (we all should!):

  • Shop widely to encourage a variety of local businesses and local food. 
  • Buy local food through local shops, markets and delivery schemes.
  • Ask where the food we buy comes from and how it’s produced.
  • Contact local planners and councillors to encourage them to support local food businesses. Start by sending them a copy of this report and asking them how they intend to use it!

Transition Town Faversham supports the findings of the report. We also think it is a fascinating and overwhelmingly positive report about our town. We urge you all to read it and follow the recommendations! You can find the full report here.

If you would like to share your thoughts on the report, please comment on this blog post.

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Permaculture Talk

A fascinating evening was had by all when Narsanna Koppula came to Faversham to talk about Permaculture on Wednesday Evening. The talk was organised by two members of Transition Town Faversham, James Thorn and Hannah Parathian. The event was well attended with lots of new but friendly faces eager to learn from an expert.

Narsanna Koppula is an Agroecologist from Andhra Pradesh, who started the Permaculture movement in India 27 years ago. He is the author of several books on sustainable agriculture and participatory rural development. He began his journey with Permaculture after attending one of the first Permaculture courses ran by the founders of the concept, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, in the 1970s.

His talk in Faversham focused on the importance of the three principles of Permaculture: earth care, people care and fair share.

He spoke in detail about the following topics:

  • the importance of soil and fertility of soil for life,
  • the different interpretations of ‘yields’ of crops – yield can be defined as high quantities of one crop or smaller quantities of a diverse range of crops,
  • quantity of crops Vs biodiversity and fertility,
  • the loss of biodiversity within rice crops in India due to multi-national companies’ actions,
  • the purpose of growing food being to eradicate hunger, not to gain,
  • his work with tribal groups in India to save seeds and create sustainable agriculture for communities.

There were plenty of interesting questions from the crowd for Narsanna, including those looking for guidance in increasing ‘People Care’ within communities in the UK.

As the talk drew to a close, Narsanna congratulated the town on having a community able to engage in discussions and positive actions. He asked that those present continued to strengthen the community.

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