Report discussing Welsh community food scheme published

July 2023 | Farm to fork, Featured, Rural poverty

person holding red chili plant

A report has been published discussing the benefits of a trial community food scheme launched in 2021. The ‘Accessible Veg Pilot Project’ studies the possible effects that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can have on encouraging healthier diets among people while also securing a sustainable food chain. The scheme was organized by T-Grains with financial assistance from UWE Bristol, Cardiff University, WWF Cymru and Food Sense Wales.

As part of the project 38 families who suffered from food insecurity received a bag of vegetables each week, provided to them by local producers. The Research team then interviewed those taking part and collected food diaries written at the start and end of the trial period in order to understand the effects the project had on their lives and eating habits.

The aims of the project were to identify the barriers that stopped people from joining a CSA, measure the effect that such a membership had on families where food security was a problem and research methods by which CSAs could put in place solidarity schemes that would allow access to all.

The project worked with 4 community farms that expressed an interest in making their produce available to those who faced food insecurity. These producers were Ash and Elm Horticulture in Llanidloes, Galsbren in Bancyfelin, Henbant in Clynnog Fawr and Slade Farm Organics in St Brides Major. These producers were encouraged to work with local charities that would help them during the project, these were Splice Child and Family Project in Bridgend and Siop Griffiths in Penygroes.

Now a report that assesses the findings and benefits of the scheme has been published by academics from Cardiff University and the University of the West of England on the Frontiers publishing platform. The report called ‘Building relationships back into the food system: addressing food insecurity & food well-being’ makes several statements regarding the need to finance similar plans in order to aid and encourage healthy eating.

According to Caroline Vuerfuerth, one of the authors of the paper, the failures of the present food system have a greater impact on low-income households, and this in turn leads to lack of access to healthy and sustainable food. The vegetable bag scheme had the effect of helping those facing food insecurity and improved their well-being. You can read the report in its entirety along with all the further recommendations the authors make here.

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