Case Study: Carmarthenshire’s recipe for success

Bwyd Sir Gâr Food is Carmarthenshire’s local food partnership and is driven by a vision to cultivate a thriving, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient county-wide food system.  It brings together partners from a number of different sectors to help tackle a range of social, economic and environmental issues, striving to ensure good food for all.  Key partners in Carmarthenshire 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
  • Castell Howell

Bwyd Sir Gâr Food is a member of the Sustainable Food Places network and the food partnership’s activity is overseen by the Sustainable Food Places co-ordinator and is supported by an active steering group made up of representatives from the key partners.

Bwyd Sir Gâr Food’s journey started back in February 2021 when Carmarthenshire Food Network was established by the Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services (CAVS) as an initial response to address concerns around access to food and co-ordinate emergency food provision during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A collaborative steering group was formed, bringing together representatives from the local authority, health board, community growers, local chefs and good food activists, emergency food providers and wider support organisations for those experiencing food insecurity. The group successfully secured funding through the Wales Poverty Alleviation Fund enabling the appointment a Carmarthenshire Food Network coordinator for an 8-month term.  During this period, five cluster groups were established with the aim to ‘connect, support and share’ to foster a more joined up grassroots food system inspired by the Sustainable Food Places framework.  Extensive mapping of the county’s food system was undertaken, helping to lead on to the formation of a strategic entity, Bwyd Sir Gâr Food aspiring to join the Sustainable Food Places programme.

In June 2022, Bwyd Sir Gâr Food was awarded membership of the Sustainable Food Places network with support from Food Sense Wales.  As a result of grant funding from the network, a Sustainable Food Places Coordinator for Carmarthenshire was appointed, hosted by one of the steering group members, Social Farms & Gardens.

“By bringing together stakeholders through the Bwyd Sir Gâr Food Partnership we can take a whole systems approach to tackling some of the challenges residents and communities of Carmarthenshire face. In the current economic and environmental climate, we need to identify the key opportunities to overcome the weaknesses in our local food system in a predominantly a rural and food producing county. The Bwyd Sir Gâr Food Partnership and Carmarthenshire Food Network as a valued partner are working collaboratively for the benefit of communities across Carmarthenshire.” Councillor Ann Davies, Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs, Community Cohesion and Planning Policy, Carmarthenshire County Council

As Carmarthenshire Food Network continued to cultivate grassroots initiatives, Bwyd Sir Gâr Food broadened its involvement to encompass wider food systems projects. This 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.  Additionally, to shape a cohesive strategic approach to food at the Public Services Board (PSB) level, a full-time Food Development Officer was appointed, initially funded by the Rural Development Programme and subsequently extended through core funding from the council for an additional six months. This role was established within the Policy and Partnership team at Carmarthenshire County Council. As a testament to the food partnership’s impact, the local Wellbeing Plan for 2023-28 now incorporates an objective to develop a county-wide food strategy, which has been drafted, consulted upon, and is on track for adoption by Carmarthenshire PSB members in late 2023-early 2024.

Following consultations with the Carmarthenshire Food Network, local residents, and businesses, the Sustainable Food Places Officer, in collaboration with the strategic partnership, developed a plan for a community-level project to foster equitable access to good, nutrition food through a community grow, cook, meal share model.  This initiative also seeks to provide comprehensive support to individuals accessing emergency food services.  Funding for this project was successfully secured through the Ministry of Social Justice’s Local Food Partnership Development Grant (April 23-24) and a new Carmarthenshire Food Network Officer has since been appointed to develop and oversee its implementation.

As a direct consequence of the increase and impact of the activity in Carmarthenshire, as well as the commitment of the local authority and other Bwyd Sir Gâr Food steering group members, the food partnership secured UK Shared Prosperity Funding for a Food System Development Project. Building upon the existing work, this funding enables the partnership to employ four additional staff members from October 2023 to December 2024, including a full-time Project Manager, a Project Administrator, a full-time head grower, and a full-time assistant grower. It also supports the continued employment of both the Sustainable Food Places Coordinator and Carmarthenshire Food Network Officer until December 2024.

“The Bwyd Sir Gâr Food Partnership has played a significant role supporting the Carmarthenshire Public Service Board in the development of a local food strategy for Carmarthenshire, providing a crucial link between the strategic stakeholders and grass roots organisations that are operational in the local food system.  Engagement and co-production are enabling the Local Food Strategy to be data, evidence and people-led to deliver on our Well-Being Plan.”  Councillor Darren Price, Chair of Carmarthenshire Public Service Board and Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council.

For further information about the work of Bwyd Sir Gâr Food, please contact Augusta Lewis, Sustainable Food Places Coordinator for Carmarthenshire –