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Two smiling women on an indoor market stall with fresh carrots, jams and leaflets about local food, with a big banner promoting Incredible Edible Middlesbrough Two smiling women on an indoor market stall with fresh carrots, jams and leaflets about local food, with a big banner promoting Incredible Edible Middlesbrough

The power of collaboration in Middlesbrough

By Sara Venn

As an Incredible Edible group, it is really worth engaging with a local Food Partnership (particularly one that is a part of the Sustainable Food Cities network) as it can yield real mutual benefits.

Incredible Edible Middlesbrough (IEM) is working closely with the Middlesbrough Food Partnership (MFP) and are valued by the partners as they have become the voice for the increasing number of community food initiatives that are happening across the town and can pass information to and from the MFP. With IEM represented on the MFP they are now aware of all the fantastic work happening at a more grass roots level, they value it more and are able to support these activities in a variety of different ways, which is great.

So what are Food Partnerships and the Sustainable Food Cities (SFC) network? SFC are a national network of over 55 locations that drive positive food change.  Communities at every scale have recognised the key role food can play in dealing with some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges and are taking a joined up approach to transforming their food culture and food system. From obesity and diet-related ill-health to food poverty and waste, climate change and biodiversity loss, food is not only at the heart of some of our greatest problems but is also a vital part of the solution. The SFC approach involves developing cross-sector food partnerships that include local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs who committed to working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. Middlesbrough has a dynamic and well established Food Partnership that are delivering an immense breadth and depth of work, connecting all of this work right across the food system.

SFC run an award scheme (Bronze to Gold) which recognises and celebrates the success of food partnerships that are achieving positive change on a range of key food issues. In 2017 Middlesbrough was awarded the Bronze award, and just last month it was awarded the Silver award.  This is a major accolade for Middlesbrough and significant as there are only 4 places with silver (Brighton, Bristol, Greater London and Middlesbrough).

And the work of IEM was a key part of Middlesbrough’s silver application as the ethos of Incredible Edible and IEM align perfectly with SFC – building resilient communities through sustainable food systems. IEM’s work in relation to community food skills/ knowledge/ projects, their dedication to raising the profile of and increasing access to local food, and their efforts in reducing food waste through redistribution of surplus food and feeding people in need were cited and are of significant importance to addressing the needs of the town.

Search around to see if your town or city has  food partnership and get in touch to see how your Incredible Edible group can get involved.

IE Middlesbrough continue to grow as a new group and are developing some really interesting projects. Work is ongoing to create a Food Coop for local growers to get local produce on the plates in local restaurants, setting up an active Gleaning group to take advantage of gluts of produce and create products for local people or to generate income and active Pop-up Social events that use surplus and local food on a pay-as-you-feel basis, feeding people in need and bringing people together to share experiences, resources, skills etc.

In an attempt to raise the profile of what IE Middlesbrough are doing and gather more like minded people together, the group run an Incredible Weekend every quarter – the next one is this weekend (28th to 30th June). Various activities such as surplus food stalls, big seed give aways, new and emerging local food producer stands on popular markets, pop-up social events and community allotment open events are run. The weekends are great fun and go a long way to build a stronger and better connected local food community.  You can find out more about what’s going on via the Incredible Edible Middlesbrough Facebook page.

Find out if there’s an Incredible Edible group near you by having a look on our map.