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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Thought for food at first New Forest Local Food Summit

 Promoting local food was on the menu as over 70 delegates from the producer, tourism, hotel, restaurant and farming sectors joined forces with consumers at the first New Forest Food Summit.

Set up by New Forest Transition, the New Forest National Park Authority, and New Forest District Council, the Summit looked at how to overcome difficulties in local food production, distribution and retail.

The delegates agreed to create a Local Food Strategy aimed at increasing the production and consumption of local produce and strengthening the local economy.

The Local Food Strategy will cover:
  • Increasing supply
  • Processing issues (especially the need for local abattoir facilities)
  • Creating a strong distribution system
  • Developing an educational package for schools
  • More effective marketing/publicity and communications

(left to right): New Forest food producers Natasha Moore (Perfect Preserves),
Jane Overall (Setley Ridge Farm Shop and Mange Tout catering),
Roy Hunt (Tatchbury Manor Farm), Will Abraham (Coles Farm),
 Alison Barnes CEO of the New Forest National Park Authority,
Peter Niccolls (Hatchet Herd of Dexter cows) at the first New Forest Food Summit.

Alison Barnes, Chief Executive of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Local food has a significant role to play in shaping the future of the New Forest. We know that farming here is mainly small-scale and that we are losing farms and farmers every year.  We also know that farming and commoning are vital to our local rural economy and to the unique habitats and landscapes of the New Forest National Park.

‘It’s essential that the necessary conditions remain or are generated to ensure there is a viable future for New Forest farmers.  The development and strengthening of a vibrant market for local food is a key factor in doing this.’

The event, hosted by Beaulieu’s Countryside Education Trust, was the culmination of the New Forest Food Challenge (NFFC) run by New Forest Transition and funded by the National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund. The challenge to individuals, families, schools, colleges and businesses in the New Forest area is to find ways of using more local food produce.

Richard Barnett, NFFC project manager, said: ‘It was a tremendous event which showed the importance that local food has for this area. A great many positive ideas and suggestions emerged to help strengthen the local market.'

Anthony Climpson, Employment and Tourism Manager at New Forest District Council, said: ‘Local food is a vital ingredient in the local economy and the Summit showed how much passion there is to get the produce out to a strong market. We are very pleased to be able to support the project – it will form a key part of the Eat and Grow Local element of the Brand New Forest campaign.’

The summit was also supported by the National Farmers Union, Fullers Brewery and the New Forest Marque.

To become involved in developing the new Local Food Strategy contact Richard Barnett at info@newforesttransition.org or call 023 8029 2531.

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