Farms support fast-growing city jobs

Local farms are helping to support almost 1,400 jobs in and around one of Britain’s fastest growing cities, says a report.

The local food market around Norwich supports some 1,390 local jobs in farming, food production and retailing, says the study by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Annual turnover from the local food network around the city is worth £52m, says the Field to Fork report, which is part of a wider project called Mapping Local Food Webs.

The study outlines the benefits of local food webs – as well as the challenges and barriers to creating a stronger local food system.

Norwich has a population of 195,000 people. It is Britain’s fourth-fastest growing city, according to Norwich City Council’s corporate plan.

Read also: Cameron and Truss unveil £400m local food drive

Norfolk CPRE chairman James Parry said the organisation had done a lot of work to quantify the contribution made by local food suppliers to the local economy.

But farming had to be economically viable if it was to work in harmony with the local landscape, Mr Parry told Farmers Weekly.

“Specialist food suppliers have a key role to play in that,” he said. “The study is evidence that the local food network around Norwich is a major economic player, probably turning over around £52m a year.”

But specialist food suppliers faced problems too, said Mr Parry. The CPRE hoped to do more to support local producers, he added.

“They are often very small and cannot always afford large marketing budgets. Promotion and publicity are often a problem.”

Mr Parry was speaking at a “Walk the Pork” event hosted by local pig farmers Rob and Sarah Simonds of Scotts Field Pork at Oxborough, west Norfolk.

The annual event gives local farmers, chefs and retailers and other food businesses the opportunity to discuss new ideas and marketing strategies face-to-face.

Mr Simonds said: “The idea of Walk the Pork is to get people on the farm so they can actually see where their pork comes from and explain what we do.”

Scotts Field Pork is a rare breed herd of 60 Large Black sows. Run commercially, the business supplies a local network of high street butchers.

The aim was to produce pork that had a reasonable fat covering to retain the texture and flavour of the meat – without being overly fat, said Mr Simonds.

“There is a huge opportunity in my opinion to give the customer a pork product that tastes better than perhaps what they are used to,” he explained.

The farm also had a good story to tell consumers, Mr Simonds added. It was a small business using family labour that was helping to preserve a rare breed pig.

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