Local Food Economy

Bristol named Gold Sustainable Food City

By Ramona Andrews

Bristol has officially been awarded the status of Gold Sustainable Food City, recognising the positive work undertaken across the city’s food system, seeking to solve social, environmental, and economic issues.

Awarded by the UK partnership programme, Sustainable Food Places, the accolade means Bristol is only the second city in the UK to achieve the status, with Brighton and Hove awarded it in 2020. The award announcement follows the work of city-wide initiative Bristol Going for Gold, led by coordinating partners Bristol Food Network, Bristol City Council, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and Resource Futures.  

Says Joy Carey, Director of Bristol Food Network and Strategic Coordinator of the gold bid: “How we produce, trade, eat and waste food influences the most pressing issues facing us today: from climate and ecological breakdown to human health and well-being, from poverty and justice to animal welfare. This is why food matters and is why, since achieving silver status in 2016, we’ve been determined to support and uncover more individuals, projects and initiatives that are contributing positively to a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system for the city and its citizens. Bristol is brimming with people who are passionate about doing better when it comes to food and it has been our job to capture their stories and impact, whilst doing all we can to support a joined-up and holistic approach to food in the city. 

“We’re delighted that this work has been recognised at the highest level, being named a Gold Sustainable Food City. We want to thank and applaud all those doing better across our city’s food system, including the citizens who have engaged with important conversations about the future of food here in Bristol.”

The winning application focussed on themes of reducing food waste, community action, growing Bristol’s good food movement, buying better, urban growing, eating better and food equality. Examples of initiatives included in the successful bid were: Grow Wilder, an education centre and growing site empowering people the bring about positive change through sustainable food growing and wildlife-friendly practices in Stapleton; the efforts of the University of West of England and the University of Bristol to take action to transform institutional food culture, including sustainable sourcing, redistributing surplus food, plant-based menus and gardening projects; The Children’s Kitchen, a programme established across the city to explore eating and growing fresh produce with children; and FOOD Clubs, which are a partnership project between Family Action, Feeding Bristol and FareShare South West, with 16 clubs across the city providing nutritious food to families at a fraction of the normal cost.

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council and Chairperson of the Going for Gold Steering Group said: “Despite the most challenging of years, we’ve seen extraordinary altruism and a continued fight to resolve not just the issues caused by the pandemic but broader pre-existing social and environmental issues.

“Our gold award is testament to the whole city rallying together and taking action, from citizens and organisations to policy makers. More than ever there is a collective energy calling for food that is good for people, communities and planet to be available to everyone in Bristol. This award makes clear that Bristol is on the right path towards a better food future.”

Bristol Bites Back Better, a prominent campaign established in the wake of the first COVID lockdown, seeks to empower Bristolians together to create a food system that will nourish the city into the future and aims to draw out and amplify voices from the diverse communities within Bristol. The outcomes of that campaign so far, including more than 160 blogs and eight short films from diverse voices across the city, formed a significant part of the application for Gold Sustainable Food City status.

Says Mohammed Saddiq, Chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership: “Bristol Green Capital Partnership is delighted to have helped coordinate Bristol’s successful bid to be a Gold Sustainable Food City. The aim of bringing the whole city together to create a fairer, greener, healthier food system perfectly aligns with our work, which seeks to foster city-wide collaboration on a range of environmental issues and make links between them. In the past year – and since we supported the launch of the Bristol Bites Back Better campaign in response to the pandemic – there has been huge levels of interest and action from the city’s businesses that are intent on doing better. The Partnership will be continuing to support and motivate organisations to take further and faster action to help Bristol meet its ambitious climate and ecological goals. Food will be a key part of this, and the relationships and collaboration that have come out of the work to achieve this status are an ideal platform to build upon.”

The bid to achieve Gold Sustainable Food City status has been supported by sponsors, Essential Trading, GenEco and Lovely Drinks.

Joy Carey, Director of Bristol Food Network, concludes: “This moment is one to be celebrated, but most definitely not an end point for us and all the other key stakeholders in this project. We’re gearing up to start work on the Bristol Good Food 2030 action plan, which will see a more joined up approach to tackling issues such as food insecurity, access to land for growing and food waste, as well as finding better ways to empower Bristolians to create a healthy, accessible and diverse food system fit for the next decade. It’s so important that this plan is framed around the real needs and hopes of our city’s people and communities, and that’s why we’re asking everyone to ‘Join the Conversation’ to share their vision for food in Bristol.”

Read all about the bid in the full submission document and also a shorter summary document, both available to download.

Photo by Simon Galloway

Competition time!

To celebrate Bristol being awarded the status of Gold Sustainable Food City, Better Food is giving four people the chance to win a £25 voucher. All you have to do is share a post on Instagram or Twitter celebrating the win, using the hashtag #BristolGoldFoodCity and tagging in @BetterFoodCo and @going_for_gold_bristol on Instagram or @BetterFoodCo and @Bristolfoodnet on Twitter!

Read more on this blog about how both the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE) have committed to positive actions to improve the sustainability of food within their institutions.

Hear from Jo Ingleby, Director of The Children’s Kitchen on this blog. Jo considers the importance of being able to cook a meal from scratch with simple, fresh, affordable ingredients. This is part of a series of six blogs looking at a post-COVID-19 sustainable food future, starting with five core principles on which to start building a better and more resilient food system, proposed by Bristol Going for Gold Coordinator Joy Carey.

FOOD Club Coordinator for Bristol and the South West, Simon Green puts the work of Bristol’s FOOD Clubs into context, describing the network of organisations that have come together to make the project work.

Join the conversation

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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