Melissa Blease meets ten local producers and initiatives who are changing the face of the food industry and tapping wholeheartedly into what’s important right now…

The ethical home delivery service: Farmdrop

This online ethical grocer sources and delivers food from local producers and farmers, bringing the makers and eaters of real food together to provide a better deal for all. Using a fleet of environmentally friendly electric delivery vans, the company can supply pretty much everything you’d buy in your weekly shop. Unlike a supermarket, however, Farmdrop is on a mission to fix and re-humanise what the company deems a broken food chain by only harvesting produce already purchased and giving farmers and producers an unprecedented 75% share of the retail profit.

The foraging fairy: heavenly hedgerows

Heavenly Hedgerows makes unique preserves and liqueurs solely using local, seasonal, naturally organic hedgerow berries and wild fruit. All of the award-winning, preservative free produce is made in small batches in Chris Westgate’s family farmhouse in Keynsham, between Bristol and Bath. The range relies solely on the fruits’ natural pectin to provide clear, perfectly set preserves consistently praised for their unique balance of flavours, ethical production standards and support of sustainable foraging, all of which have earned this tiny little homegrown business national acclaim.

The ethical, global entrepreneurs: Naturya

Based in Southstoke, Bath, Naturya source nutritionally dense vegan superfoods directly from developing countries across the world, forming an inherently sustainable supply chain and providing a premium to farmers for their grown and wild-harvested produce, which the company uses in an ever-expanding range of pre-packed berries, natural supplements, breakfast boosts, conserves and healthy snack bars. As 33% of fresh fruit and vegetables are wasted in the global supply chain, the company preserve and process the produce at harvest, so it becomes more concentrated and lighter to transport with virtually no wastage from ‘ugly’ fruit or spoiled plants.

The quinoa queens: Bath Farm Girls

Quinoa is an ancient, versatile, gluten-free ‘grain’ (which is actually technically a seed, and classed as a vegetable – not many people know that!). Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete, vegan protein source. Emily Addicott Sauvao, head honcho of Bath Farm Girls, is one of only a handful of farmers nurturing and promoting a crop that, until fairly recently, languished in the dusty corners of small independent health food shops without being given the
full spotlight moment it so richly deserves.

The socially significant supper club: Foodcycle Bath

FoodCycle Bath – part of a national charitable network – aims to reduce the impact of food poverty, end food waste, offer volunteers the opportunity to gain useful skills and experience, develop communities and reduce social isolation. Between January and June of last year year, the Bath hub rescued three tonnes of surplus food donated by local supermarkets and, with the help of volunteers who accumulated more than 1,100 unpaid hours of time between them, served over 750 meals cooked in the kitchen at St Mary’s Catholic Church on Julian Road for people who, for a wide variety of reasons, quite simply needed to be there.

The eggs factor: New Macdonald’s Farm

New MacDonald’s Farm (based in South Wraxall, near Bradford on Avon/Bath) puts a fresh new spin on the age-old, classic nursery rhyme. It is a fully sustainable farm with a low carbon footprint working strictly to priorities based around high welfare. The team feed all their animals on an organic diet while supporting rare breeds that are at risk of dying out. Their hens’ beautiful, pastel-hued eggs have become the stuff of local foodie legend, while the quality, flavour and provenance of their poultry, pork and meat can only be described as superb.

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Back down to earth: the community farm

This community-owned social enterprise grows a wide range of seasonal, organic food to be sold through a box delivery service and/or live and direct from their shop in Green Park Station, Bath. The enterprise also aims to help people develop a better understanding of where their food comes from, reconnect with the land on which their food is grown and learn more about sustainable farming courtesy of a number of events hosted at their Chew Magna base, alongside school visits and learning experiences that all aim to encourage a greater awareness of food and healthy eating amongst young people.

Making fermentation fabulous: Bath culture house

Bath-born biologist and self-confessed fermentation geek Lucie Cousins produces an artisan, handcrafted range of raw, vegan and gluten-free, fermented food and drink that’s all natural, live and unprocessed. Lucie supplies many local outlets including Harvest Bath, Beyond the Kale and Farleigh Road Farm Shop, and spreads the fermentation and gut health message through public meet’n’greets at local markets and festivals. She also hosts Fermentation Workshops at Demuths Cookery School and is currently developing her timetable to include Tempeh and Tofu Workshops and Vegan Cheese Masterclasses.

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The hospitality industry innovators: 3 Café & Kitchen

Three Ways School (Odd Down, Bath) offers curriculum delivery to children and students with special educational needs aged from four to 19 years, supported by a team of staff and therapists who offer a wide level of expertise, enhanced by excellent facilities and resources. Last year – following a massive fundraising campaign – headteacher Julie Dyer’s vision of opening a community-based training centre to allow students the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience (including accredited qualifications in subjects such as Food Hygiene) turned into a reality. Today, the lovely, lively 3 Café & Kitchen is a fully accessible café, shop and meeting space/events venue open to the public six days a week.

The community activists: transition bath

This local, voluntary environmental organisation aims to harness the power of the local community in the fight against declining natural resources and increasing food and fuel costs. Three main groups (the Energy Group, the Transport and Built Environment Group and the Food Group) each run their own projects, with the Food Group bringing together all manner of facets from Guerilla Gardening and nuttery projects to courses on permaculture, food security and beekeeping, all actively educating the public about building resilience for a more sustainable future, while promoting and celebrating the multiple benefits of locally grown and sourced produce.