Local Food Economy

“The community supports us and we support the community”

By Freselam Temesgen

In our latest blog post, Freselam Temesgen from The Real Habesha Restaurant on Stapleton Road explores the importance of diversifying our high streets. We need a wider range of options for where we can all buy nutritious food. Diversity in food businesses brings mutual benefits to all parts of the supply chain.

I have worked alongside my father at our authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant based on Stapleton Road for nearly a year now.

Bristol is a very diverse city. It has a lot of different cultures all over the city. I think it’s important that this diversity is reflected within the high streets.

Currently we find ourselves in the situation where our food system has become the same. So when you have small family restaurants like ours who bring diversity to the high streets, I think this is incredibly important. We start to build relationships with our community. These relationships develop into an understanding and an appreciation of each other.

However, the experience of setting up the community meeting had been such a positive one that it fuelled me throughout lockdown. I had seen for the first time how taking a step, challenging myself and doing something new welcomed in fresh energy and hope. I was still really keen to live in a more environmentally sustainable way and used the time during lockdown to take an action every month so that we could lower the negative impact we were having on our environment.

The community supports us and we support the community. For example, we use two local shops Bristol Sweet Mart and Istanbul Supermarket within walking distance who provide us with our fresh vegetables. So every morning we go to the local shops to buy our vegetables for the day and then we return to the restaurant and prepare our food to be ready to be served in the evening.

This helps by keeping the money in the community. Buying local keeps money circulating locally for longer. But more than this, we are able to develop relationships with the people who live here and I think that is really important. The public wants to support businesses that are at the heart of their communities and we all saw this in our high streets during lockdown.

I hope that in the future there are more family-run restaurants like ours further diversifying and strengthening our local community and the high streets.

Freselam Temesgen and her father run The Real Habesha Restaurant in Stapleton Road.

Those working in our city’s food sector face unprecedented challenges. Though the bid to make Bristol a Gold Sustainable Food City has had to refocus, the need for a resilient food community has never been greater. Visit Bristol Food Network for more information and resources on Bristol’s Good Food response to the pandemic. Read Bristol Going for Gold Coordinator Joy Carey’s blog proposing five core principles on which to start building a better and more resilient food system.

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So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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