I was fortunate enough to be able to get to this event held as part of the Harvest Festival in Waterford and because of the lack of wifi in the venue I took notes during the presentations and will share them over a couple of posts. They are raw notes and I will not be editing them a whole lot.
This one was from Denise Daly Watson who spoke about a Food network she helped to set up and also a little about her own farm based food business.
Scottish Borders Food Network is a Leader funded project which started in 2006 – founded by businesses for businesses with a consensus approach. 61 members – primary producers as well as food hospitality providers (24 producers, 33 providers and 3 associates) Strong artisan focus
She said that their understanding of what consumers/customers what has helped them to add value [and hence to increase margins, keith]
As part of balance of committee 50:50 producers and providers.Their goals include promoting local Borders food, providing a forum for member businesses, tackling the distribution challenge and making the link between food and the environment.
Funding – they have received 100k over 2 years from Leader with matched funding from Local Authority. Also the Scottish Government is very supportive with a strong food policy.
Some of the Network members
* Employed a coordinator, created a brand and a website, showing with regional food and tourism events, chefs events to meet the producers.
* Accessability – this was a response to their civic responsibility and addresses the myth that local food is not everyone across the social divide.
* Post Leader Funding – increasing membership, bringing in more artisan producers. Stronger brand recognition.
* 5 year regional food strategy with trans-national collaboration to qualify for EU/Leader funding
* Address shortage of vegetable growers
Learnings to date. Consensus is important, this leads to member buy in. Communications are important to develop trust along the food chain.
Running a food network is complex – mixed profiles and requirements
(Denise and her husband – photo from 5pm blog)
She runs Peelham Farm – they are organic and spent a lot of money developing a brand having realised the importance of that in their marketing.
Sustainability, transparency and taste – two of the things which are so important to them and they won a 2009 farm award because of that.
They use rare breeds and have learned the skills/trade of butchering. They sell to a number of Michelin star chefs.
They have an open farm – transparency. So they encourage farm visits.
Finally she said that their use of the internet will be extending and youtube to be added to their twitter and facebook portfolio.
[liked that presentation a lot, very passionate and inspiring speaker, keith]