The Secret To Creating And Maintaining Local Food Networks

The logistics of creating and maintaining local food networks takes time and effort, of course. Here we are in the 21st century with the best tech and comms capability we’ve ever had, and yet we are still not talking to each other! Also, is it possible for us to see the impending climate doom stalking us daily as an opportunity?

The Shift

COVID brought some interesting stuff our way. It broke a lot of things and made many more happen. It did a lot for the food delivery business I was working with and has generally been a great boost for local food. So what do we do with that? And who’s going to do it?

Local food

Nobody likes meetings because they generally are boring unless there are exciting things to talk about. And what could be more exciting than talking about developing sustainable food and logistics networks?! Not much. Let’s work together on this. That is the principle, seeing what’s possible.

Endless Possibilities

I work for a local bike logistics company, and there is so much scope and possibility for making links and developing the market. There is no existing model for a semi-rural cargo bike company. They generally work in cities and often work with delivery companies, like DHL, where they can make it work by delivering many packages in a small area. In semi-rural places, it’s different. You have to get into the fabric of what’s happening locally; tapping into that entails a lot of legwork.

If we change how local food and logistics work, we need legwork.

The early stages of creating new networks:

  1. Forget what you know.
  2. Approach the situation with an ‘anything could happen’ attitude.
  3. Talk to people about possibilities.
  4. Don’t chase people who don’t want to work with you; they’ll probably come and find you later.

Starting Conversations

Ok, I haven’t given a whole lot to go on there. We have to talk more; that’s the crux of things. We’re at the stage now where people’s brains are changing when it comes to climate change. People are keen to change, but they don’t know where to start. They think it will be easy, but, likely, it will not be easy. That’s where the legwork comes in, the sticking with it, going back for another conversation, finding the ‘in’ with interested people that will lead to a solid and serviceable link.

Local food

Battery-powered logistics is the ‘next thing.’ It’s not a complete solution, but it is a lot less polluting and makes total sense for us to start moving in this direction. In a world full of trucks and diesel fumes, it’s still a dangerous time for cargo bikes, but we have to be using them. The network is tricky to establish, but there will always be people around who will think, “that’s a brilliant idea,” and you can build a strong business on those kinds of foundations. Keep talking!

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Alan has worked in local food for over a decade and in that time has been involved in retail, wholesale and growing local produce. He is passionate about people working together and enjoys bringing his ideas into the world of veg. He lives in the West Yorkshire hills with his wife, daughter, (and a son soon to be!) dog and cat and loves walking in the hills, sleeping out in the woods, and having a dip in the river (but would sometimes prefer sleeping out in -3 than a dip in the river!). He will be publishing his first book this spring. He has recently qualified as a mindfulness teacher and has also trained as a nature connection guide. He likes to combine the philosophical with the practical.