Gloucestershire is very strong on food and farming. With over 70% of the county's land under some form of agricultural production, and with 3 very strong agri-learning institutions (RAU, CCRI and Hartpury) as well as Camden BRI, its an important sector of our economy, employing 50,000 people across the county.
The Gloucestershire Food Group, ably led by Tamsyn Harrod of BoomCircle, has been meeting at least quarterly since January 2019. The most exciting and impressive action to date is securing and informing the importance of ‘Advanced Agri-Tech’ in the Local Enterprise Partnership's Local Industrial Strategy. This achievement recognises the importance of Food and Farming to the economy of Gloucestershire, and sees it as an opportunity for development and enhancement, with beneficial health, employment, economic, research and environmental outcomes.
The Group is currently drafting a Food Strategy for Gloucestershire with 3 strands/themes – Pioneer, Prosperity, Place. This was inspired by the Sustainable Food Cities program, which promotes the use of food as THE vehicle for driving social, economic and environmental change in a particular town or county. The strategy is very much in it’s development stages, and one idea to bring this to life is a brand, a kind of 'made/grown in Gloucestershire', recognising not only the importance of eating local food, but also the innovative and pioneering approach the county could take to food production in general, holing it up as an exemplar nationally and internationally.
Environmental sustainability will be at the heart of the Gloucestershire Food Strategy, as the group are acutely aware that we have only 40 harvests of soil left globally - this is true in Gloucestershire also, with current farming practices. We need a way of farming, and processing food that is more in tune with the natural environment - that works with it, rather than taking from it and polluting into it. This will be an important part of how Gloucestershire promotes food and farming, and ties in with the approach to agricultural subsidies that DEFRA are planning to implement over the coming years, as outlined in the agriculture bill which is currently before parliament.
The Local Nature Partnership are delighted to be involved in the development of the Gloucestershire Food Strategy and look forward to continuing to support this important work. For more details, please either contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tamsyn, who is leading this important work as part of the GFirst LEP Agri Food & Rural Business group , email@example.com.
A draft version of the Gloucestershire Food Strategy will be available on the GFirst LEP website later this year.