Building a Good Food Movement

On 12 June, Tom and I drove to Edinburgh to represent the Leeds Food Partnership (LFP) at the Sustainable Food Cities annual conference. It was an excellent couple of days surrounded by inspiring people all working to bring about change to their local food systems.

SFC Conf 2017 Group
Sustainable Food Cities members celebrate building a good food movement.

The conference began with an awards dinner that celebrated the achievements of Manchester and Middlesbrough in attaining the SFC Bronze Award and London the Silver Award – all very impressive and definitely something Leeds will aspire too. Following the meal we got caught up in a frenetic Ceilidh, which was the perfect way to get initiated into the network!

SFC Conf 2017 Dancing
Dancing the night away!


The following morning representatives from the network of 50 member cities, towns, boroughs, plus those looking to join and develop food partnerships, attended the conference to work together to build on the good food work happening across the country.

Over the course of the day I attended two workshops – the first focussed on building a local good food movement, where we heard about the experiences of Brighton and Hove, Bristol and Cambridge, all of which have taken different paths to building strong food movements in their cities. The discussions focussed on the importance of engaging across a broad range of stakeholders, which the LFP already recognizes and is building a firm foundation through our partnership working. There’s a lot of fantastic food work happening across Leeds and it is important that this work is supported and celebrated. Meanwhile, Tom was at a workshop on how best to engage with businesses, and how local award and recognition schemes can motivate businesses to get actively involved in promoting and providing healthy and sustainable food.

The second workshop focused on getting the basics right and was aimed at new food partnerships that are just getting started, like us in Leeds. It is well documented that the food partnerships that are most likely to succeed are those built on firm foundations, involving the right people and the right process. We heard from Leicester, which has been going for quite a while, as well as Aberdeen that like Leeds is in the early stages.

Throughout the conference it was clear that Leeds has a lot of great work happening all across the food system and now it’s the time to pull it together and develop an integrated approach to food for the city. Tom’s workshop with Ben Messer explored Sustainable Food Cities new ‘health check’ interactive tool for assessing the strength or your SFC partnership and programme, as well as providing a Q&A and learning exchange session on how to strengthen key aspects with SFC staff and practitioners.

SFC Conf SW and GB
It was a great opportunity for national and regional networking – Sonja (LFP), Gareth Batty (Fareshare Yorkshire and Pam Bhupal (Bradford Council)

In closing, Ben Reynolds from Sustain, one of SFC’s partner organizations, suggested that SFC was no longer a network of cities but the beginning of a good food movement. A network shares ideas and information, whereas a movement creates change.

It’s fantastic that Leeds is part of this movement and working to bring about change both here in Leeds as well as across the country. The LFP is aiming to achieve the SFC Bronze Award in 2018, but to do this we need the help of charities, businesses, academia, Leeds City Council, community groups, NHS and individuals to join the Leeds Food Partnership and to commit to working together to achieve the aims and objectives of the upcoming Leeds Food Charter.

For more information about the Leeds Food Partnership and how you can get involved, please contact and follow us on Twitter @LeedsFoodP


Food Coordinator Appointed

On 24th of May, three very strong candidates were interviewed for the post of Food Coordinator, funded by Sustainable Food Cities and University of Leeds N8 Agrifood Group. All three candidates had a great deal to offer and it would have been perfect if we could have hired all three, but we’re delighted to announce that the successful candidate was current Feed Leeds Chair; Sonja Woodcock.

This is a major milestone in a journey that started at the very first Feeds Leeds meeting in 2012, was driven forward initially by Dr Chiara Tornaghi, then by Andy Goldring, Nigel Jones, Tom Bliss, Professor Les Firbank and above all Sonja herself – so this is a fitting reward for some very hard work on her part over the past 18 months. Sonja will start working 2.5 days per week at the beginning of July, and will be based at Zest Health for Life – soon to be housed in the old Fire Station in Gipton.

One of Sonja’s early tasks will be to complete the evolution of the Leeds Food Partnership into a fully independent organisation, of which Feed Leeds will be but one member (the one that represents food growers and those with related activities), rather than the host. She will also begin to develop the Partnership. If you would like to become a Partner, please start by joining our Linkedin Group

The Great Food Conundrum: Health vs Sustainability

The next Think Tank is on the 2nd of May at 6pm. The seminar is free – but please book

Main presentation and debate with Dr Christian Reynolds, University of Sheffield

Food that’s good for us is often bad for the planet, but food that’s local and ‘green’ may not provide an adequate diet. Add the issues of cost and taste and you soon have a major challenge

Christian Reynolds is a Research Fellow (N8 AgriFood project) at the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, and an adjunct Research Fellow at the Barbara Hardy Institute for Sustainable Environments and Technologies, University of South Australia. Christian’s research examines the economic and environmental impacts of food consumption; with focus upon sustainable, healthy and affordable diets; food waste; and the political power of food in international relations

Come and share your concerns, ideas, suggestions and experience


Leeds Local Food Infrastructure: Progress Towards a Strategic Approach

Leeds Food Partnership Steering Group

Location: Maurice Keyworth LT, UoL Business School (old Grammar School) At the Junction of Clarendon Rd with Moorland Rd Leeds LS6 1AN

With a stall to meet:

IFDA Forum: Leeds: Past, Present and Progress (Food)

This year the Independent Food and Drink Academy (IFDA) will deliver the IFDA Forum 2017, as series of four events will take place across the City. The events have been carefully designed by Thom Hetherington and will provide the sector with a holistic, dynamic learning experience, hearing from some of the UK’s sector experts.

The first of four IFDA Forum events, we will start with taking a look at Leeds Food and Drink sector.
What are Leeds’ USPs and who or what are the key organisations or individuals in the local food and drink ecology? Where is Leeds going, what does it need and where are the opportunities for food and drink entrepreneurs?

It is too easy for regional cities to become introspective and inward-looking, so for Leeds to build on its strengths it must be honest about its limiting factors, aware of its strengths, open to opportunities, and it must benchmark against comparable cities at home and abroad look to outside voices for inspiration and innovation.

Jamie Campbell, CGA Peach
Lucy Noone, Allied London
Martin Wolstencroft, Arc Inspirations
Duncan Pitfield, D&D London

Date: Tuesday 25 April
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ

After the event the lobby will be open for drinks until 11pm.

This event is free to members, please enter your code once you have selected the ticket.

To become a member and get all four events for free, please visit the IFDA website.