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Building a better local food economy

Films | Published  22 November 2022

‘Producing, Buying and Serving Better’ is the latest film by Eating Better, highlighting the exemplary work taking place in Scotland. This is an inspirational story that can help other local authorities, producers and retailers see the potential of local food systems.

Government /Producers /Food Retail

Hugh Grierson from Hugh Grierson Organic showcases the trust that certification by organisations such as The Soil Association and Pasture for Life lends to a product, and the benefits of being part of local food systems. His slow-growing chickens are fed from the peas and oats in the adjacent fields, reducing reliance on bought-in feed whilst maintaining soil health.

“I got into farming because I wanted to sell foods directly to people, and not deal through a large industrial system.” - Hugh Grierson, Hugh Grierson Organic

The film then features Locavore, a  social enterprise helping people source locally and sustainably. They grow their own vegetables, source organic grains and pulses from the local area, and deliver fresh produce through their vegetable box scheme. At their shop in Glasgow they sell fresh milk from Mossgiel Organic, an exceptional dairy farm who we featured in our last film. Reuben Chesters, Managing Director of Locavore is a strong advocate for public sector role in supporting a local sustainable food system:

“Public procurement is the best place where councils and the government can put their money where their mouth is and buy from local progressive producers.”

Locavore supply East Ayrshire Council with their organic tinned goods and recognise the role they can play in supporting a local food economy. 

Mossgiel Organic is run by multi-award winning dairy farmer, Bryce Cunningham, who has invested the past eight years in bringing this system to fruition. He transitioned Mossgiel from an intensive dairy system to an organic farm certified by Eating Better alliance members, the Soil Association and Pasture for Life. The small herd of 45 Ayrshire cows are milked once a day and the calves stay with their mums until they are weaned at 4 months, when they also transition to eating grass and herbal leys. Throughout the production process, the quality of the produce has been prioritised over the yield. 

Speaking on Mossgiel Organic’s contract with East Ayrshire Council, owner Bryce Cunningham states:

“We have 25 people working here from the local community and it’s a fantastic circular economy that we’ve managed to be part of.”

We see the full picture of the benefits of local procurement systems with Mark Hunter, Strategic Food Lead of East Ayrshire Council. They are the longest standing holder of the Gold Food For Life award and are making replicable strides towards a more sustainable food system. Mossgiel Organic signed a landmark contract with East Ayrshire Council to supply organic milk to 40 schools in the area. 

“This approach to supporting sustainable local producers is absolutely scalable for local authorities across the UK. We have a blueprint here for others to follow,  ” - Simon Billing, Executive Director, Eating Better

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