Our Food Plan in Dacorum

Dacorum is a mixed socio-economic but relatively affluent London suburb on the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire border, there is relatively little agricultural activity in the area. The initiative for this project came from several local Transition groups who formed a network called the Dacorum Local Food Initiative (DLFI) which represents people from all aspects of local food including growers, farmers, retailers, local council representatives and voluntary groups.

The aim of DLFI is to promote all aspects of local food in the Dacorum area (Hemel Hempstead, Tring, Berkhamsted and the surrounding villages) and to enhance local food security, the local food economy and agricultural diversity.

At the same time as signing up as a pilot for Our Food Plan, DFLI was granted funding for a one year Local Food Co-ordinator post. The overall name for this local food project was Fresh Local Accessible (FLA)

dac1f3 introduced the ‘Our Food Plan’ process to the FLA/DLFI group at a meeting in Berkhamstead Town Hall attended by 25 people including the new FLA co-ordinator, some local landowners, councillors, and local food activists. Participants at this meeting were excited by the idea of the ‘Our Food Plan’ (OFP) process and very motivated to adapt the process to suit their local needs.

Instead of specific workshops focused on the OFP process they decided to set up a roadshow incorporating many of the OFP tools and take this roadshow to events that were already scheduled around the local area. These included school fetes, farmers’ markets, Apple Days, Food Festivals and craft fairs as well as several stalls in High Streets around the area.

These roadshows attracted a huge amount of interest in the OFP process with over 400 people completing questionnaires which gave the OFP team a mass of information about the local food needs of the area.

The FLA coordinator backed up this research with several meeting with local landowners, restaurants interested in sourcing local produce and councillors interested in strengthening the local food economy.

This work culminated in an action planning workshop on 30th November 2013 at which over 50 participants were offered recommendations made by the FLA co-ordinator and the DLFI team. These recommendations were discussed and amended then developed into a draft action plan. The workshop outputs led into a detailed objective setting process and an application for a second year’s funding for the FLA coordinator’s post. This funding bid was successful and the action plan in now being implemented.

 

The OFP process in Dacorum has reached this level of success largely through the work of the coordinator in holding the process together and motivating the volunteers to maintain their commitment in supporting her. The coordinator said ‘it has been great having the f3 process as the backbone to our work in Dacorum. We hit the ground running and even though we didn’t follow OFP to the letter it has been a wonderful resource which we have adapted to suit our needs. We would never have achieved so much so quickly without f3’s support’