Janet Dwyer and Chris Short facilitated the breakout groups at the GFirst LEP sponsored events in the new Alliston Building at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. Organised by GFirst LEP’s Agri, Food and Rural Business Group the workshop brought together all those with a passion for food, farming and the wider rural economy in the county as well as some national figures. The aim of the workshop was to bring strong ambassadors together for this important sector in order to build a strong, resilient rural economy and ensuring the Local Industrial Strategy recognises this.
The first plenary focused on how to measure the value of the ‘rural economy’ and commenced with a talk by Martin Collison, a former farmer, lecturer and rural economic development specialist, with a strong background across the agri-food, rural and green economies. Contributions were then made across the board on how important it will be in the coming years to have a robust strategy to tackle the changes facing the rural economy and ‘rural’ matters in Gloucestershire. Many examples of how we can explore what can be done collectively were made to enable stronger and more resilient local economic growth.
Following a presentations by Tamsyn Harrod, a sustainability specialist within food and farming sector and Tom Andrews from the Soil Assoication. the second session focused on how we can increase the promotion, purchase and understanding of locally produced food. This session looked at the effect of how we produce, buy, eat, share and learn about food has incredible power to strengthen our county’s health, wealth and community connection.Discussions took place between delegates concerning how it might be possible to unleash this potential to create a stronger local food chain that helps communities in Gloucestershire to thrive. It was also an opportunity to learn about how other regions in the UK are collaborating through Food Partnerships and options for Gloucestershire to start our own.
Reflecting on the events of the day, CCRI’s Director Janet Dwyer said “this is a really important first step to identify the collective will and support for a robust and resilient rural economy. With the expertise of the RAU and the CCRI and the many partners that attended today behind this initiative I am very positive that we can develop a strategy to ensure a bright future for both rural and urban Gloucestershire”.