Good Food Governance

Knowle West Food Network: joining the dots around food in Knowle 

By Ramona Andrews

Bristol Food Network’s Ramona Andrews attended Autumn’s Knowle West Food Network meeting to learn how this local network of people interested in food are coming together to address areas they have identified as priorities for food in Knowle: access, knowledge and joy. 

Knowle West Food Network is an active network of residents, groups, businesses and organisations interested in food, working together to plan and make locally led change happen in Knowle West. The network was first formed in February 2020 with the aim of being a meeting place for connectivity, spotting gaps, making connections, kindness, collaboration and finding solutions. When the pandemic hit, members pivoted their work to lead the local emergency food response. Now that we are out of the covid emergency, the network is able to focus on more strategic work around its three co-designed priority areas.  

The work we do at Bristol Food Network and Bristol Good Food 2030 is about supporting, informing and connecting individuals, community projects, organisations and businesses across the city who share a vision to transform Bristol into a sustainable food city. It was inspiring to see a grassroots food networking group in action in Knowle doing this work on a hyper-local scale. 

I joined the autumn meeting at Filwood Community Centre with local residents and people from organisations across Knowle – Knowle West Health Park, Redcatch Community Garden, Square Food Foundation, Re:work, Shaping Places, Knowle West Alliance, Knowle West Media Centre, Springfield Allotments and a local councillor.  

It felt very much like an open space where all of us were made to feel welcome and heard. Lucy from Knowle West Alliance started proceedings by asking us all our favourite soup and top tip for saving money – squash and batch-cooking were up there as top responses (onion soup is my go-to if you’re interested!) 

The network aims for all people in Knowle West to have access to good-quality affordable food and for everyone to have the confidence, skills, knowledge and equipment they need to prepare a healthy diet of food that they enjoy. At local events they have engaged with many more residents and co-designed three priority areas: 

  1. Access to food 
  2. Building food knowledge / food education 
  3. Food as a tool for connectivity, fun and joy 


The first item on the agenda was an update about the letter sent from the network to mayor Marvin Rees about the development of the Filwood Broadway, Broadwalk Shopping Centre and other parts of Knowle, outlining residents’ concerns about where people will be able to buy food if they don’t have a car. The letter asks for food considerations to be genuinely built into development plans. Lucy reminded the group that by having a food network “there can be a collective voice which becomes more powerful. We have now met with Councillor Ellie King to explain the issue further”.  

Next Annali from Knowle West Media centre gave an update on the Community Climate Action Project, supported by Bristol Green Capital Partnership. Annali invited the group to make connections across different themes interlinked with food. 

Finally we heard from Abby from Square Food Foundation (SFF) and Mike from Redcatch Community Garden (RCG) about Shaping Places for Healthier Lives funding and how SFF and RCG have collaboratively engaged residents and local organisations to come up with three viable initiatives: a community freezer with community cook-offs, a slow-cooker club and micro grants.  

Abby shared some of the resident groups’ thoughts, for example “time is the biggest barrier to cooking from scratch – how can we reduce this?” and people “want to be part of something, not a handout – be a member of a club”. The initiatives needed to be “inclusive and accessible to everyone – parents, isolated people, people without transport”. We discussed how these initiatives address both Knowle West Food Network’s priority areas and the resident groups’ ideas. Knowle-based Step and Stone were suggested as a great example of branding for a food Community Interest Company. We also talked about how it would be useful to link to the community website on any of the packaging used for the community cook-off food. 

Such partnership working gives ‘added value’ that, although it is not always easy to measure, the contribution is invaluable, improving decision-making, knowledge and skills all round. 

If you are a Knowle West resident and would like to participate, find out more on the Knowle West Alliance website.

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