Emily O’Brien recently came along to talk at our Network meeting about the Brighton and Hove food partnership. Emily told us all about the Brighton and Hove food strategy action plan 2018 to 2023. The full report can be downloaded online

Their vision is a city where everyone has the opportunity to eat healthy food from sustainable sources

The talk was brilliant for anyone interested in health and well-being and in particular the food we eat. It was also very enlightening to see how the strategy came about. A superb example of partnership working including 11 expert panel members, over 100 action plan partners and six national supporting organisations.

Modern food systems provide us with large quantities of low cost food but at a huge cost to people and the planet. These problems cannot be solved at national level alone, but require local action to rebuild local food systems. That is why Brighton and Hove’s food strategy has been so welcome. Cities like Brighton and Hove are showing that new farming practices, food distribution and retail networks, and ways of valuing food in the local economy are all possible – and they are possible in unison.

As the brilliant design on the cover suggests, the network wants to collaborate with partners beyond the borders of Brighton and Hove, and they would be very pleased to connect with any Greenhavens projects that has food at its heart.

Having a food strategy brings huge wins to Brighton and Hove, improving people’s health, the environment and the local economy

Emily emphasised how small positive changes are often more successful than asking people to make huge fundamental changes, which can be very daunting. For example avoiding sugar/junk food/high fat food etc can be very difficult. Instead they network focused on getting people to do one positive thing to improve their diet – for example getting people to eat more vegetables.

This “Peas Please” campaign is a great fun way to try and get people eating healthy vegetables.

Emily told us that in food growing projects, the benefits were not so much cost and taste of the food, but the improved health and well-being of participants. For someone on a low income, investing in plants and seeds time and resources is actually quite a risky strategy. It was better to encourage people to join community planting schemes where they could share the harvest and benefit from the social engagement and involvement. There are community gardens in Seaford, Peacehaven, Newhaven and Lewes. You can read more about a recent garden event here.

Though the food theme was fascinating and very relevant to our network, what was also inspirational was the way that the action plan had come about after collaboration with so many partner organisations. We can again seen just how much more can be achieved by working together.

A food partnership has also recently been formed in Eastbourne so Greenhavens have been exploring how we can work with them to support our community gardens.

Thanks so much to Emily for this fantastic presentation. Everyone was really inspired in how working in partnership can have a huge impact to our communities.

Don’t forget our next network meeting is on 4 December (details below).

If you would like to talk about your community group or other relevant topic at one of our network meetings, please do get in touch.