Carmarthenshire celebrates a taste of success
Carmarthenshire has been awarded the prestigious Bronze Sustainable Food Places award in recognition of its commitment to building a thriving, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient county-wide food system.
The Sustainable Food Places Awards are national, evidence-based accolades that celebrate counties, towns or cities taking a joined-up and holistic approach to sustainable and healthy food. There are three level of awards – Bronze, Silver and Gold – that all reward the excellent efforts of local food partnerships and stakeholders.
The work in Carmarthenshire is co-ordinated by Bwyd Sir Gâr Food – a local food partnership that consists of dedicated organisations, businesses, individuals and community groups, working together to build a thriving, healthy and sustainable food system in the county.
Leon Ballin, Sustainable Food Places Programme Manager, said: “Carmarthenshire has shown just what can be achieved when creative and committed people work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. While there is still much to do and many challenges to overcome, Bwyd Sir Gâr Food has helped to set a benchmark for other members of the UK Sustainable Food Places Network to follow. We look forward to working with them over the months and years ahead to continue to transform Carmarthenshire’s food culture and food system for the better.”
A member of the Sustainable Food Places network since 2021, members of the Bwyd Sir Gâr Food partnership include Carmarthenshire County Council, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Natural Resources Wales, Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthenshire Food Network, Social Farms & Gardens, Food Sense Wales, and Castell Howell.
Bwyd Sir Gâr Food’s impact extends across the county and recent projects and initiatives have included:
- A pilot programme, funded by the Rural Development Programme as part of the Resilient Green Spaces project, exploring local and sustainable public procurement, and developing a resilient and sustainable horticulture sector through a food hub model led by Social Farms & Gardens
- Development of a community project through the Carmarthenshire Food Network to foster equitable access to good, nutrition food through a community grow, cook, meal share model working through Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services and with Hywel Dda University Health Board Community Health Improvement Team
- Developing a project with support from Welsh Government to explore School Meals as a Driver for Social, Economic and Environmental Change led by Carmarthenshire County Council
- Working with Food Sense Wales to develop local supply chains through the Food and Fun programme in Carmarthenshire
- Working closely with the local authority to help shape a strategic approach to food at the Public Services Board(PSB) level
- Securing UK Shared Prosperity Funding for a Food System Development Project to build on existing work that includes three strands:
- Strategic Land Management for Public Goods
- Community Connections and Improving Access to Healthy Food
- Being part of a UK Shared Prosperity Funded Machinery Ring developed and delivered by Social Farms & Gardens that will enable small-scale growers to loan machinery for use on their land in Carmarthenshire
“It has been a pleasure to coordinate such a motivated and ambitious group over the last 18-months,” says Augusta Lewis, Sustainable Food Places Co-ordinator for Carmarthenshire.
“Food is a cross-cutting theme that influences community health and wellbeing, the local economy and the environment. By taking a multi-sector ‘whole system’ approach, it has enabled us to become more than the sum of our parts. We are working collectively for the common goal of ensuring a sustainable, inclusive, resilient and diverse local food system fit for future generations. Our projects are based on what Carmarthenshire communities have told us is wanted and needed and are delighted our efforts have been recognised through attaining our bronze award. We are keen to build on this foundational work, further engaging with communities, businesses, the voluntary and the public sector, to bring about a thriving, diverse, healthy and resilient food system for the county.”
Councillor Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs, Community Cohesion and Planning Policy, Carmarthenshire County Council, and member of the partnership’s steering group says: “I’m delighted that Bwyd Sir Gâr Food has been awarded Bronze Sustainable Food Places status and that its achievements have been recognised by the awarding body. By bringing together stakeholders through the Bwyd Sir Gâr Food Partnership, we are taking a whole systems approach to tackling some of the challenges that residents and communities of Carmarthenshire face. In the current economic and environmental climate, Bwyd Sir Gâr Food is working to identify key opportunities that can help overcome the weaknesses in our local food system in a predominantly rural and food producing county.”
Sustainable Food Places is one of the UK’s fastest-growing social movements. Its network 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.
“I’m so pleased that Carmarthenshire’s been awarded Bronze Sustainable Food Places Status,” continues Katie Palmer, Programme Manager at Food Sense Wales, Sustainable Food Place’s national partner in Wales.
“This award shows the positive impact of people, communities, organisations and business working together to drive change that will benefit the health, economy, sustainability and social prosperity of communities across the whole of Wales,” continues Katie.
“Carmarthenshire’s achieved so much since becoming members of the network in 2021, supporting sustainable food production as well as developing agroecological supply chains; increasing the amount of local food being served on the public plate and to encouraging food citizenship and participation within communities across the county. The work that’s been undertaken in Carmarthenshire has also been used to build the case for the development of food partnerships across Wales – a model that’s been highlighted by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales in the new #CymruCan strategy as an opportunity to help Wales achieve its well-being goals. I’m now really excited to see how projects develop and how the partnership impacts on Carmarthenshire’s food future.”