Promoting a vibrant sustainable food economy

City initiatives

Use the links below to see practical examples of how places around the UK are taking action.

1. Promote a sustainable food economy through policy and planning

Birmingham Food Council published an interim report in December 2014 that confirmed how significant the impact of food and how it is produced, distributed and consumed was and explored the various tensions that exist.

Leicester’s Indoor Market redevelopment aims to regenerate a historic market and create new business opportunities for local producers and processers.

Plymouth’s DEAL project promotes short food supply chains and helps exchange learning and best practice in local food production and marketing.

2. Support new sustainable food entrepreneurs

Liverpool’s Can Cook is opening its community kitchen to new food entrepreneurs, who can use the facilities while receiving support to grow their business.

London Urban Food Routes provides specialised business support and funding to London’s small food enterprises.

Manchester’s FarmStart is the first farm business incubator in the UK and aims to make the route into farming easier.

Tamar Grow Local works with commercial growers and supply chains to increase the production of and cooperative trade in local food.

3. Promote healthy and sustainable food businesses

Bath’s Eat Out Eat Well Award has been developed to reward food outlets that provide their customers with healthier choices.

Belfast’s Our Food, So Good and award winning Taste of Ulster promotes locally produced food and drink.

Bristol's Eating Better Award is a free award for food businesses that sell healthier food options and promote sustainability.

Local Food Dorset is an on-line directory of local food in the county.

FoodFuture Bridport produced a paper and digital map of local food on offer. 

Cambridge Sustainable Food awards businesses that successfully demonstrate their overall sustainability by making a series of pledges.

Herefordshire Food Links is an on-line directory to help consumers find local produce direct from the producer and from shops and markets within the county.

Leicestershire’s Farmers Market is promoted as being “Britain’s favourite market” and insists on the local and “good food” character of the market.

London’s Healthy Catering Commitment provides food businesses that meet healthy catering criteria with a recognised brand to promote their efforts. 

London’s Urban Food Fortnight is an annual celebration of fabulous local produce being grown, produced and cooked on London’s doorstep.

Oxford's local food directory includes entries on box schemes, allotments, farmers' markets, local producers, grocers and sustainable retailers.

Oxford Community Markets aims to create a truly alternative shopping experience by bringing together of the city’s numerous community owned and organised markets.

Plymouth is the first city in the UK to achieve the Fish2Fork Blue City Award, where half of the city’s restaurants are sourcing sustainable seafood. 

4. Increase spending in local food businesses

Bristol Independents campaign promotes independent retailers throughout Bristol to increase consumer spending in the local food economy.

Bristol Pound is the UK’s first citywide currency with electronic accounts managed by a regulated financial institution. See also the Brixton Pound and the Totnes Pound.

Independent Liverpool Food Card encourages consumers to shop at independent local food shops and restaurants through year-round discounts.

5. Support sustainable start-up food businesses

Islington Council’s Street Trading Strategy makes recommendations for action on supporting new good food businesses.

Lambeth Council offers business rate relief to support high streets and supported start-ups in Brixton Village by offering zero rent to take over empty shops.

Oldham Council provides business rate relief for small businesses and food retailers (including shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants).

6. Protect and/or re-establish vital food infrastructure

Brighton and Hove City Council owned Open Market has been redeveloped and handed over to a community interest company, with a commitment to “local, Fair Trade, free range and organic produce, and other goods that demonstrate a considerate approach to the environment”. 

Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub has been set up as a storage and distribution centre for locally produced, sustainable food from farms in the Cambridgeshire area, a retail outlet, a café and a community space. The facilities will be available for ‘one-off’ bookings as well as for training events, farmers’ markets and conferences. The Food Hub will also feature incubator kitchens for local sustainable food enterprises. 

7. Help producers connect better with local consumers

Brighton’s How It Should Be (hiSbe) is a new independent supermarket chain based on ethical trading practices, sustainable local sourcing and affordable produce.

Cambridge’s Organic Food Company delivers boxes of organic fruit and vegetables from local producers as well as supplying many local independent retailers.

Carlisle’s Fair Food Carlisle buying groups offers healthy local food to buying groups in workplaces, community centres or neighbourhoods.

Hackney’s Growing Communities harnesses the collective buying power of the community to support farmers who are producing food in a sustainable way.

London’s People’s Supermarket is a successful example of a food business embracing sustainable local sourcing.

Manchester’s The Unicorn Grocery is a worker’s cooperative offering a huge range of affordable, wholesome food with a focus on organic, fair-trade and local sourcing. 

Manchester’s VegPeople is a co-operative of local organic growers and restaurants working together to provide fresh, seasonal food of the highest possible quality.

Stroudco is a CSA and food hub in Gloucestershire that links over 50 local producers providing more than 600 products directly to consumers.

Walthamstow’s OrganicLea is a food growing cooperative that sells allotment surplus through a box scheme, market stall, food centre and community café. 

8. Help restaurants to become more sustainable

Bolton’s The Kitchen is a cooperatively-run café project designed to get people involved in the local food movement.

Cambridgeshire County Council runs a Healthier Options scheme where local businesses can register to learn how to make their food healthier.  

GCDA provides food business training for food entrepreneurs which covers menu planning with sustainable and healthy food, procurement, financial management and promotion. 

London’s Ethical Eats was an informal network of restaurants and caterers that shared experiences and identified practical ways of becoming more sustainable.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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