March 5 2015 Latest news:

Co-operation between producers, consumers and communities could boost Norfolk’s thriving food industry – and help it cope with global agricultural challenges.

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That was one of the suggestions made at a conference this morning (Wednesday) which looked at how to build a resilient, localised food system for the future.

A complex barrage of challenges – ranging from local planning red tape to international supply shortages – was discussed at the event, hosted by the Norfolk Rural Community Council (NRCC) and the Norfolk Rural Forum at the NRCC’s offices in Dereham.

Speakers included cheese-maker Catherine Temple, Jane Miller from Produced in Norfolk, and Josiah Meldrum from East Anglia Food Link.

They discussed initiatives to persuade consumers to buy locally, to use seasonal produce as a means of driving more tourism, and to generate a sense of pride in serving Norfolk food on Norfolk dinner plates.

But one innovative approach included the use of “Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) – a collaboration between farms and consumers to secure home-grown food supplies while fostering a greater understanding among those who had invested time, effort or money in its production.

Mr Meldrum is a director of East Anglia Food Link, which last year took over five acres of farmland outside Norwich at Postwick for the Norwich FarmShare project.

“There are a lot of insecurities in the global food system,” he said. “It may well not affect us in the UK for some time but there is a real need to re-localise food production and the supply chain that goes with it.

“I’m not saying CSA is the whole solution, but it is part of the solution in re-engaging people with how their food is produced. If people have a better understanding of how their vegetables have been grown they may start to make different choices on what they buy – even if it is just going to the local produce aisle in the supermarket.”

For the full story, see Thursday’s EDP.

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