Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership

Working towards becoming a Sustainable Food Places member

Established in 2021, the Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership is a cross-sector body of public and third sector organisations working to support Blaenau Gwent in its mission to become a Sustainable Food Place.  The Food Partnership provides support and guidance to help Blaenau Gwent transition to a food system that will bring about positive change.

With a Partnership Board that includes Tai Calon Housing Association, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Natural Resources Wales, the group firmly believes that making sustainable food a focus for the area will result in making healthy, affordable food more accessible.  The Partnership also recognises the huge vale of community engagement and action, and wants to encourage people of all ages from cross the county to become food citizens, in turn developing and nurturing an active ‘Good Food Movement’ in the area.

At the heart of the Partnership’s ethos is the determination to collaborate with communities, businesses and institutions to see direct place-based action that promotes prosperity and enhances resilience in people, places and the planet in a just and fair way.

Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership wants to set in motion an ambitious strategy that addresses the challenges and opportunities within Blaenau Gwent’s food system.  The establishment of a local food partnership in Blaenau Gwent will play a pivotal role in coordinating local action on issues such as food access and the development of a ‘Good Food Movement’. Being part of a cross sector group of organisation means that the Food Partnership is also well placed to promote sustainable food policies at local governance level – a key driver for delivering sustainable change.

“The partnership seeks to enable residents to have the skills and knowledge as well as power over their food choices, to make decision that are good for both human and planetary health,” says Chris Nottingham, the Food Partnership’s Co-ordinator. “Through the establishment of a ‘Good Food Movement, the partnership hopes to inspire and connect people and places, driving positive social, economic and environmental change.”

Since the creation of the Food Partnership, there has been a more joined-up approach in response to short term emergency food provisions throughout the county. The Partnership is also working with groups to offer better access to land for community growing projects which is resulting in collective action.  This mounting interest in local food systems is also demonstrating the very real effect and impact that food can have people’s health, well-being and prosperity.

“We want to see local supply chains thriving to support a diverse range of local food settings,” continues Chris.  “We would like to see the demand for people to grow their own food being met, whilst also encouraging communities to protect and enhance nature and address climate change through reducing waste, improving diets and increasing biodiversity.

“Most of all, we want to support the transition to a food system that connects communities at every stage from production to consumption, making good food a simple option for every resident.”

The Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership’s next goal is to become a member of the Sustainable Food Places Network (SFP) – a network that brings together pioneering food partnerships from towns, cities, boroughs, districts and counties across the UK that are driving innovation and best practice on all aspects of healthy and sustainable food.

“The SFP framework and the comprehensive resources on offer would make the journey to becoming a sustainable food place a realistic and achievable goal,” adds Chris.

“With a network of members active both locally and nationally, there is support available to help with many of the challenges facing local food partnerships.  It also provides inspiration for those embarking on becoming a part of the network through its friendly members – who are passionate about seeing local food partnerships succeed in delivering real and meaningful change in their respective areas.  In Blaenau Gwent, we’re really looking forward to our next step along the Sustainable Food Places journey.”