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Campaign aims to make Cambridge a Gold Sustainable Food Place

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Cambridge is going for gold, with a new campaign aiming to make it only the third place in the country to receive the highest accolade for its sustainable food system.

The #GoldFoodCambridge campaign is being launched on May 27 by the Cambridge Sustainable Food (CSF) Partnership, and is supported by the Cambridge Independent.

Cambridge Sustainable Food supporters promote the launch of the new campaign. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Sustainable Food supporters promote the launch of the new campaign. Picture: Keith Heppell

It is designed to help create a local food system that is healthy, climate-friendly and fair for all.

If successful, CSF hopes the city will be named a Gold Sustainable Food Place, following in the footsteps of Brighton and Bristol.

Sam Dyer, CEO of Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, said: “We are immensely proud of what we collectively have achieved so far in the city. Having received a Sustainable Food Places Silver Award in 2021, we are aiming even higher.

“We invite partners, from local businesses, schools, charities, community groups and residents to take collective action over the next 18 months as part of this campaign.

“We aim to create significant, positive and lasting change for a fairer and more secure and sustainable food system for everyone.”

Examples of the kind of actions that could be taken to help Cambridge get the gold include initiatives to minimise food waste, taking part in community growing or composting, and making more use of independent and sustainable food businesses.

CoFarm celebrates charitable status. Picture: Keith Heppell
CoFarm celebrates charitable status. Picture: Keith Heppell

Gavin Shelton, the founder of CoFarm, the community farming project, and chair of the CSF partnership board, said: “The pandemic brought food into much sharper focus for so many of us. Where and how is my food produced and distributed? How does it affect our health and wellbeing? Who wins and who loses? These are all questions we should be asking about our current food systems.

“More people are understanding that these systems are unsustainable and unethical and that we need to build more local, resilient and fairer food systems. We’ll be sharing, supporting and celebrating what local people, schools and businesses can – and are already – doing to make this happen in our city.”

CoFarm’s crop yield in Abbey
CoFarm’s crop yield in Abbey

Up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food systems, and many people still lack access to healthy food.

The #GoldFoodCambridge campaign will help make Cambridge a ‘Right to Food City’, while leading the local responses to the food and climate emergency. Its key aims are to make the city a national leader by:

  • Creating a resilient food system that restores nature and tackles climate change; and
  • Moving from food insecurity to food justice: developing a new approach to ensure good food for all.

CSF says key to the success of the campaign, and making lasting changes, will be collective action and collaboration, and the use of #YesWeCam on social media – created in a human sculpture for our drone photograph, below – is intended to encourage participation.

Follow #YesWeCam on social media. Drone picture: Keith Heppell
Follow #YesWeCam on social media. Drone picture: Keith Heppell

The CSF Partnership includes Cambridge City Council, Cambridge City Foodbank, CoFarm and public health authorities.

A member of the Sustainable Food Places network run by Sustain, The Soil Association and Food Matters, the partnership has helped Cambridge become one of only six Sustainable Food Places in the UK to have achieved a silver award.

The partnership has created nine community food hubs in low-income areas, served by a central supply of surplus and fresh donated food. It co-created a food poverty action plan endorsed by the council.

Sam Dyer, of Cambridge Sustainable Food, at Buchan Street community centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sam Dyer, of Cambridge Sustainable Food, at Buchan Street community centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

The partnership provides support for sustainable food enterprises, runs public awareness campaigns, and encourages supply chains, caterers and food businesses to put sustainability at their heart.

Cllr Alex Collis, deputy leader of the city council and councillor for sustainable food, said: “We’ve got silver, winning gold will be a huge achievement for the city and put us on the map as one of the places leading change in the UK.”

In the coming months, business and community events will take place to show how everyone can play their part.

For further updates, keep an eye on https://cambridgesustainablefood.org/goldfoodcitycambridge, and follow @FoodCambridge and #YesWeCam, along with #GoldFoodCambridge, on Twitter, or @cambridgefood on Facebook.

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