Supporting Underrepresented Groups in the UK to Access Markets in Food

The Open Food Network is launching a new project to find out how we can support underrepresented groups in London to access locally produced food. We have received funding for this project from SHED.

Overall aim

The aim of this project is to promote inclusive, short food supply chains by creating online direct selling opportunities for food producers, food hubs, and community food enterprises led by or that serve underrepresented communities in Britain. We plan to do this by using the Open Food Network’s existing software platform.

Take a look at the food producers and local food hubs across the UK who are already using the Open Food Network to sell their food products directly to customers

Project objectives

    1. To identify the key factors preventing effective engagement of underrepresented communities in formalised short food supply chains on and offline.  

    2. To engage underrepresented communities in curating sustainable solutions for inclusive local supply chains. 

    3. To onboard interested underrepresented food producers, hubs, and community enterprises to online direct sales opportunities. 

Why does this project focus on underrepresented groups?

In the Jumping Fences report (2023) it was reported that Farming is the least diverse occupation in England and Wales as revealed by the Labour Force Survey of 2015. 

At the Open Food Network we believe in Systemic Change and a global transition that addresses the root causes of current ills, not its symptoms. Part of this is our commitment to decolonisation and prefiguring systems that we want to be brought into being.

We believe in empowerment, and that the Open Food Network creates conditions in which people empower themselves to create the food systems that work for them; this gives people a real say in their livelihoods and the creation of their local food economy. 

Read more about our values

This project will be informed by the work that has already gone before it. One of the recommendations from the Rootz into Food Growing report (2021) was that:

In order to achieve food justice, all communities must be empowered to ‘grow, sell, and eat healthy food, which is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals’ (Food Justice Glossary). A sustainable food system in London’s future will need growers from its minoritized communities, in particular Black people and people of colour (BPOC).

We feel that the Open Food Network has a role to play in achieving food justice for all communities. That’s why we are bringing the knowledge and experience of our global community of growers, farmers and community food enterprises collectively building fairer food systems into this project to help us. Additionally, we have capital to financially support groups working on the ground in London who are already doing great work or have plans to set up new local food networks.

Can you help us?

We hope to open conversations with people already working in this space, and work in collaboration to build resilient short food supply chains in London.

We would love to hear from existing food hubs, or groups in London who would like to set up a local food network. 

For more information please email Jo da Silva, Project Coordinator.