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View of allotments with healthy soil and lots of vegetables growing View of allotments with healthy soil and lots of vegetables growing

Bringing sticky money to life

By Sara Venn

Anyone who has heard our Founder, Pam Warhurst, talk will have heard her phrase ‘sticky money’ when speaking about the business plate and we thought it would be useful to offer some thoughts on how sticky money can work in a community near you.

We often say that of the three Incredible Edible plates the business plate is the hardest, to both spin and to explain. What does it mean and how does it work? Which is where the phrase sticky money is a really useful way to explain.

Let’s take a local farmer as an example of someone supporting the local economy and keeping his money within that economy as sticky money. The farmer grows just outside the town, and employs two local folk as his workforce as well as others as and when the business requires. He produces food for several local restaurants and cafes and also sells through one of the local shops in town.  A local jam and pickle maker uses his produce for their products and he rents a small piece of land to a local egg producer who sells locally. He has a small box scheme which sells to around 100 people in town and he has a stall at the market in town once per week. By keeping his business parameters local he is supporting the local economy rather than feeding into any large supply chain that might allow him to concentrate on one income stream, but would see his produce disappear and support the food system’s shareholders rather than the local economy and workforce. He supports local tourism through supplying local cafes and restaurants, helps bring locals into town by being at the local market and supports the local high street at the same time. And the money he brings into the local economy by and large stays within it because by being on the high street and in the market he is supporting a healthy town centre. Hence the money he is bringing to the local economy is sticky money, i.e. money that sticks locally, supporting people not shareholders! And everyone knows him, meaning that locally children understand where their food comes from as he regularly has groups from all sectors of education visit his farm.

For us, as individuals rather than farmers, that’s what the business plate is all about in its most simple format – supporting the local, be that a producer, a shop or a market.  Spending our money where it will stay within the local economy – sticky money.  And promoting our local businesses by working together. Buying from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects, small producers and farmers and local bakeries is a really simple way of ensuring that our want to find local solutions to global issues is kept.

Of course in some places this is more simple than in others. Some would argue that in a large city it might be hard to find local producers but in most cases there is a CSA or local buying group to get involved with. Or of course you could set your own buying group up as a part of your project!

By supporting small, local production we are also ensuring the land on which our food is grown is well looked after, managed to organic or even agroecological principles, looking after all the populations that we share our planet with.

Have your group come up with innovative ways to support local businesses?  Get in touch as we’d love to share you ideas.