Today Food Assembly announced that it will be ceasing UK trading in September. Since 2014 The Food Assembly have been supporting individuals to become food activists, supporting producers to sell locally, and supporting shoppers to know the people that produce their food. The local food movement in the UK suffers a sad loss without this visionary contributor to food systems diversity. And the loss of Food Assembly shows just how difficult it is create viable alternative food system models here in the UK.
Through the courageous efforts of the Food Assembly we have learned a little more about what does and does not work in local food in the UK. Perhaps we have learned that asking shoppers and producers to come to a single pick up once a week is not sustainable effort for many people’s busy lives. Perhaps we have learned that running an enterprise on a 10% cut of sale price is hard to make work financially. These are important lessons. As we’ve outlined in this blog, the lessons are crucial in our search for inclusive, sustainable food systems that work for everyone. And we cannot learn these lessons without the less successful attempts.
So many Food Assembly hosts across the country have worked tirelessly for years to create fantastic communities that help quality food get to real people. These communities are valuable! They have created trust, relationships, friends and networks. They are supportive, nourishing, visionary and hopeful. This social capital is invaluable and if it were to disappear overnight our society would be worse for it.
We cannot let all of this hard work be lost!
The Open Food Network would like to invite Food Assemblies across the country to join our network.
OFN can be used in a similar way to the Food Assembly but offers more versatility of features, such as multiple collection days and the ability to embed your shopfront in your own website. Shoppers can order online, producers can manage their products and stock and hubs can facilitate packing, distribution and choose their own mark-ups.
OFN supports a wide range of business models. As a Hub manager you can experiment with multiple collection points, delivery options, payment methods, multiple price points, wholesale offerings, flexible mark-ups. There is a huge amount of flexibility to experiment with business models that make use of the assets and circumstances in your community.
OFN is a global, open-source community collectively developed and maintained by food activists and software developers around the world. As a platform cooperative, users of OFN become members and owners of the network.
As a global community new features are being added all the time. Collectively, as shoppers, producers and hub managers, we can design new features. Paid and volunteer product managers, system administrators and developers ensure that our platform continues to run smoothly.
Set up is straight forward, you don’t have to be techy to manage it. OFN offer support via a helpdesk email and they have a community forum where you can ask questions to other users similar to our facebook group. There is an online guide for setting up.
Read more about OFN Food hubs and how to set them up here: https://guide.openfoodnetwork.org/setup-manuals/hub-shop
The OFN community would love to welcome you onto the network. We’d be happy to answer your questions and show you around the software. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more. Introduce yourself on our forum or get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org