Open Food Network weaves its magic in Lincolnshire

Open Food Network workshops in Lincolnshire – 26 January 2023

By Laura Stratford (Lincolnshire Food Partnership Coordinator):

We’re still buzzing from the conversations led by Nick Weir about developing local food networks and food hubs in Lincolnshire.

25 people travelled from across the county (Greater Lincolnshire is MASSIVE!) and gathered at Mint Lane Cafe in Lincoln, for two OFN workshops and a convivial bring & share Burns Night supper.  

Participants had a lot of questions – of Nick and each other – and much to contribute, coming with various backgrounds, roles and intentions within the local food ecosystem, including:

Donington Community Farm
  • producers interested in the possibility of selling directly to eaters and buyers including
  • large and smaller scale farmers,
  • growers,
  • food processors
  • Representatives of organisations addressing poverty through food
  • People with transport capacity to move produce between producers and eaters
  • Potential pick up points such as shops and cafes
  • Potential hubs – both:
  • producer hubs selling their own and other producers’ goods 
  • non producer hubs providing a single shop front for multiple producers working from a consolidation point

We heard from all the people in the room about their interest in building short food supply chains locally, and had a look at how the OFN is working in other parts of the country.  We set up one of the farmers on the OFN from scratch as a live demo. This included

  • setting up her enterprise on the OFN platform
  • setting up the first of her products
  • creating one of her ‘shipping methods’
  • setting up one payment option
  • opening her shop ready to take orders

This whole process took around 20 mins

We explored the options for building a network of producers and hubs across Lincolnshire and are now planning some regional workshops to build hubs around Lincoln, Grimsby and Sleaford.

Nick Weir, Community Facilitator from OFN said 

‘it is very inspiring to see how much enthusiasm there is for local, resilient, responsive and efficient food systems that meet the needs of all the people involved in the food supply chain. Great things will be happening in Lincolnshire!’

A participants emailed her appreciation shortly after the session, saying: 

“Thank you for bringing so many of us together yesterday to help grow a greater presence on OFN within Lincolnshire. I look forward to seeing local foods start to become easier to find and purchase!”

Laura Stratford, Co-ordinator at the Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership said:

People really want to eat nourishing, locally & sustainably produced food, and yet in a great farming county like Lincolnshire, why is that so difficult? It is immensely exciting to see these generous, passionate, determined people from farms, foodbanks, shops, market gardens and more, coming together to work out how we can make good food available to everyone in our communities. Happily, there’s the OFN to help with that….

Lincolnshire is a member of UAC’s midlands cluster. These workshops were funded by UAC.

Donington Community Farm.