14 May 1999

Welsh first to push own food for locals

By Robert Davies

THE first of a national network of 15 groups that will try to get more local food eaten by local people has been launched in Wales.

Although the Soil Association is the driving force behind the Food Futures Project, and has secured Lottery Charities Board funding, non-organic foods will also be promoted and many other organisations are being involved.

Powys Food Futures was launched by broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, Soil Association president, at Powis Castle, Welshpool. It is backed by both Welsh farming unions, Powys County Council and a broad section of national and local organisations in the county.

Guests were served a meal including locally produced lamb, turkey, beef, ham, vegetables and cheese, prepared by nine volunteers led by Carno farmer Lavinia Vaughan.

"I have always believed that we should promote our marvellous local products better, so this initiative is a dream come true for me," said Mrs Vaughan, who recently campaigned to get beefburgers made to her recipe served in schools.

"It is important that we in farming work with others to help ourselves by telling everyone how good local food is, and then making it available in local shops and through catering outlets."

Mr Dimbleby said producers would benefit financially if part of their output was sold via farm shops, farmers markets and other forms of direct marketing. But reducing the length of the marketing chain could also let consumers have distinctive local produce at reasonable prices.

Powys Food Futures will hold six workshops over the next 18 months. These will look at a range of ideas, including setting up farmers markets, publishing local cookbooks, creating food co-operatives, local processing initiatives and the use of more local produce in homes, schools, hotels and restaurants in the county.