From 5th – 7th June 2019, visitors from each region of the Food Chains 4EU project gathered in Greater Manchester to attend an interregional learning event. The focus for the event was “creating a vibrant and sustainable food economy through co-operation” and the group participated in visits and listened to presentations that reflected the theme over three days.

On the first day of the event, the group heard from Sustainable Food Cities, the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network and the Oldham-based Northern Roots project. Guests were treated to a delicious vegetarian lunch at the 8th Day co-operative café in central Manchester, where they heard about the café’s approach to sustainable food and what it means to be a workers’ co-operative. After lunch the group visited Hatch, an award-winning pop-up food, drink and retail space in central Manchester.

The second day of the event was packed full of trips to local businesses, all of which have received support from the Business Growth Hub. Businesses visited included Seven Bro7hers brewery, Four Sis7ers gin distillery, Booch and Brew (a Kombucha producer) and Zymurgorium gin distillery. The group heard about the ways in which the Business Growth Hub has supported these businesses and helped them to go from strength to strength.

The final day of the interregional learning event kicked off with presentations from the Business Growth Hub that detailed aspects of their work including the Growth and Start-up Team, the Recipe4Success programme and an overview of the whole organization. This was followed by a walk along the canal to the next venue, Bridge 5 Mill, a sustainable venue for conferences, events and exhibitions. Lunch was provided by Open Kitchen Manchester, a catering social enterprise that turns food that would otherwise be wasted into delicious meals for conferences, meetings and events.

After lunch, the group had presentations from Open Kitchen Manchester about the issue of food waste, the need to combat it and the ways in which their business model is contributing to the fight against food waste. They then heard from the Co-op Group about the progress made by the organization in continuing to boost their environmental credentials and leading the way on issues such as food waste reduction, the reduction of single-use plastics and the development of compostable carrier bags. This was followed by a talk from the Kindling Trust about their work including their farmer training programme (FarmStart), their volunteer days (Land Army) and a veg box scheme. The final presentation was from Co-operatives UK about their work with co-operative businesses. The presentation gave a fascinating overview of the history and development of co-operatives in the UK, the different types of co-operative business models and examples of co-operatives in the UK.

The event also provided an opportunity for each partnering region to give a short presentation detailing progress on their Regional Action Plan. Proceedings came to a close on Friday 7th June following a productive project meeting where partners were able to discuss various issues relating to the development and implementation of their action plans.

Photos are posted in the Library Section