Local food project toasts a successful first year

Yvonne Alexander, Local Food Works project co-ordinator with some of the stallholders from the Falkland Food Market.
Yvonne Alexander, Local Food Works project co-ordinator with some of the stallholders from the Falkland Food Market.

A food initiative that has helped Fife locals to reduce carbon emissions while supporting the area’s food producers is celebrating its first anniversary after receiving a further round of life-blood funding.

Local Food Works has also helped to bring the community of Falkland and neighbouring villages together by encouraging people to enjoy and buy locally produced food.

The project, which is being funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, incorporates a regular local Saturday food market, community meals, food workshops and an initiative to develop redundant areas around the stable block at Falkland Estate into productive growing spaces. The project is run through the Falkland Stewardship Trust with one of the objectives being to cut the number of car journeys to the big supermarkets.

The extent of the programme’s success has been highlighted in an independent report produced by consultancy firm Climate Futures. The study shows that an estimated 500 unique shoppers visited 39 food markets during the first year with each spending an average of £13 per visit. As most people made multiple visits, this equated to a total spend of around £27,000.

Although these figures are important, Local Food Works project coordinator Yvonne Alexander says the impact of the initiative has been more than just financial. “To change people’s habits, we wanted to make local food producers and growers more accessible in our community,” she said. “I am extremely proud to say that this is happening, primarily because the quality of food on offer is so good, but also because of the level of community engagement. People keep coming back for more, which is great.”

The independent report reveals that over three tonnes of food has been sold at the Falkland Food Market in its first year and a total of 85 tonnes of greenhouse gases have been reduced throughout the entire project by swapping supermarket trips for local food options and improving food waste awareness.

David Gunn, Climate Challenge fund manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “I encourage the community to become involved with Local Food Works and take advantage of opportunities to buy, grow, cook and celebrate local food.

“We look forward to empowering many more communities to take action on climate change through our management of the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and see it as part of our work to make Scotland clean, green and more sustainable.”

The new round of funding, which extends until March 2018, not only gives the project a timely boost but also enables the organisers to roll out new schemes such as Land-to-Plate days when local school children are invited to pick vegetables and learn how to cook them. There will also be compositing workshops and Love-Food-Hate-Waste sessions along with three harvest events. In addition, 150m2 of extra redundant space around Falkland Estate will be converted into growing areas led by Sam Docherty, the community gardener and a bank of 40 volunteers.

Sam Docherty said: “We have some great plans for this year and are really excited about the range of vegetables that we are growing.

“Having funding like this is making a real difference to our community. We are always on the look-out for extra help and would encourage anyone interested to get involved – it’s certainly very rewarding work!”

As well as the Falkland Food Market and the plans to utilise various spaces around Falkland Estate, the project is also planning a number of events and workshops all based around local food.

Yvonne added: “The Falkland Food market will continue, as will the community meals, but we will also be embarking on a range of new projects to further involve the local community.

“We have enjoyed an encouraging start during our first year and are ready to roll out phase two of the project thanks to the new funding from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.”