How food hubs can help create a more sustainable food system

How food hubs can help create a more sustainable food system

Hosted by Cambridge sustainable food hub

Our food system needs to be reimagined in a way that centres both ecological and social justice, but in order to build an agroecological food system, farming must be accompanied by distribution infrastructure that is appropriate in both scale and values.

Sustainable food hubs are well placed to provide such infrastructure. As gatekeepers of values and standards, they select what produce to supply and as they are embedded in their communities, they can respond to local need. Going beyond simply providing short supply chain infrastructure, these hubs can help overcome barriers to establishing more, smaller, agroecological farms, and can integrate projects aimed at overcoming food insecurity and health inequalities. However, it is not easy to juggle the needs of the farmer, the eater, and the countless other people who are impacted by our food system.

This session looks at sustainable food hubs and the fundamental role they could play in transitioning to a just, agroecological food system. It will begin with a presentation by Bella Driessen of the Food Research Collaboration about research in the field of food hubs, followed by three presentations from organisations that are directly involved in localised food supply-chains.

Attendees of the session can expect to hear all that’s new in the world of food hubs, and to be presented with a vision of how a shift to more localised food distribution systems will lead to reduced environmental impact of food, a more vibrant local food economy, and improved health and well-being for all.

Speakers/hosts include:

Duncan Catchpole – Duncan is the founder and owner of the Cambridge Organic Food Company and Cambridge Food Hub. He is also a founding committee member of Cambridge Sustainable Food (the organisation responsible for Cambridge’s inclusion in Sustainable Food Places) and author of the book ‘Local Food Ecosystems; How Food Hubs Can Help Create a More Sustainable Food System’. Duncan’s particular areas of interest and expertise are short food supply chains and ways in which circular economy principles can be put into practice in the food system.

Gabriella Driessen – While training as an agroecological market gardener, Bella witnessed the amazing work and incredible hurdles faced by farmers in the UK. In equal parts inspired and frustrated by the state of food and farming, she went back to academia to look more deeply into the food system’s structural issues. In 2019 she undertook an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford, where she wrote her thesis on the neoliberalisation of the UK’s agricultural policy. Since then, she has worked with civil society, carrying out research into local food supply chains and land access for food production. As Research Assistant for the Food Research Collaboration, she focuses on the role of food hubs in sustainable food systems.

Natasha Soares – Natasha Soares is Project Leader for Better Food Traders, a network and accreditation scheme for ethical food businesses supporting sustainable UK horticulture. She co-founded London-based sustainable food initiative, Growing Communities and is a board member of Local Greens veg scheme. She also co-owns and co-manages Pear Necessities, an organic top-fruit orchard in Kent.

Gareth Roberts – Gareth Roberts is a founder member and co-director of Regather, and coordinator of ShefFood – Sheffield’s Food Parternship. Gareth is passionate about cooperation, and has worked collaboratively with people from all walks of life for over 20 years. Since 2015 Gareth has led strategic developments around Community Economic Development and Sustainable Food Systems in Sheffield, ensuring Regather and ShefFood lead on innovative economic and social change. His mission is a food system where money is retained in the local economy, land is more productive, food is better quality, health is improved and people have better awareness of and involvement with how the food system, from local to global, can be changed for the better.