Citizens gather to discuss Our Food Horizon in the Vale of Glamorgan

On 23rd November, over 60 activists, food producers, and key partners joined together at Barry Memo Arts Centre to discuss a strategy and vision for the future of food in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The event was hosted by Food Vale, the sustainable food partnership for the Vale of Glamorgan, and forms the next step in their goal of making the local food system in the Vale of Glamorgan healthier and more sustainable. Whilst the strategy is set to span a 5-year duration, it is going to be embedded in a 100-year vision as a gesture of acknowledgement of the importance of long-term thinking in order to ensure that the needs of future generations are being considered.

The day began with a series of presentations from special guests who were able to set the scene for the discussions that would follow.

Cllr Susan Lloyd-Selby, the Council’s Tackling Poverty Champion, shared some sobering statistics on food insecurity in the Vale, as well as insights on what we are already doing in the Vale.

Angelina Sanderson-Bellamy, Professor of Food Systems at the University of the West of England, spoke about our food system in the context of a changing worlds and changing needs, and gave an overview of some pathways to net zero and plausible future scenarios.

Jenny McConnell from the Future Generations Office introduced the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and their new strategy ‘Cymru Can’ which has identified food as a priority area of focus with the power to connect and contribute to all five of their wider missions.

Fiona Kinghorn, Executive Director of Public Health at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, also joined to share understandings of the importance of addressing health inequalities and ensuring a healthy local population in efforts to build a better local food system.

And Emma and Geraint Evans from Bonvilston Edge share their experiences of the challenges and opportunities of growing veg in the Vale in 2023.

Holly Butterworth from Natural Resources Wales then guided participants through the Three Horizons Framework – a toolkit for making sense of what we want the future to look like and what measures might be able to be pursued in the present in order to achieve this.

Attendees then went into three hands-on sessions to discuss each Horizon 1: where we are now; Horizon 3: our vision for the future; and Horizon 2: how can we get there. Fresh perspectives emerged from every discussion group, and attendees were pleased to be able to learn from one another’s experiences and build innovative ideas as a collective.

Local caterers WildThing provided a delicious lunch and refreshments made from seasonal and organic ingredients, which kept attendees fuelled for the duration of the workshop. At the end of the day, facilitators collected all of the notes to begin to organise these into themes.

A separate online event was held the following week for those unable to join the in-person event.

You can see the presentations that were shared during the day here.

Next steps

Food Vale will be taking forward this work to formulate a draft strategy and vision that will be shared in early 2024. There will be a consultation period to ensure citizens have more opportunities to shape this strategy. This will be communicated in our newsletter, on the Food Vale website, and through our social media channels.

We will be working closely with partners in the Council, in the PSB, in the Health Board and elsewhere to make sure that this work aligns as closely as possible with existing strategies and policies across the Vale of Glamorgan, such as the Health Board’s Move More Eat Well plan, the Council’s Climate Challenge plan ‘Project Zero’, and of course the Vale PSB’s Wellbeing Plan.

We hope to launch the signed-off strategy next Spring. The strategy will be delivered by all partners, and progress will be monitored by the Food Vale Steering Group. Food Vale will be seeking clear support from key partners who will be encourage to sign up to endorse this strategy.

Food Vale wishes to thank everyone who took the time out to join the Our Food Horizon event, with special thanks to those who supported on the delivery; including the speakers, caterers, facilitators and Barry Memo Arts Centre for hosting us.

Thank you to all the partners who continue to support the work of the Food Vale partnership. We look forward to sharing the draft strategy with you in 2024.