City takes first steps towards sustainable food network 🌾

Welcome to another midweek round-up

City takes first steps towards sustainable food network 🌾
Waterloo Park in Norwich. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Greetings from The Seeker!

It's Shaun here with another midweek round-up.

As editor I want to bring you stories from our city and surrounding communities that don't normally get covered elsewhere .

And I think our lead story about new plans to build a sustainable food network across Norwich is one of those.

So remember, you read it here first!

Meanwhile, Frances Kemp from the Yare Boat Club (see Pulling together below) was recommended by friends who read The Seeker to get in touch about their new boathouse after no-one else showed any interest.

Well, we are interested - and if you are a community group with a story to tell, we want to hear from you, too 📞.

Got a story? Email

📰Today's edition

  • Fairer food
  • Tooth decay
  • Safety first
  • Anti-racism pledge
  • New home needed
  • Pulling together
  • Special presentation
  • Out and About

Ok, let's get started!

Fairer Food

Sloughbottom Park, Norwich. Photo: John Fielding Wikimedia Commons

The seeds of a new sustainable food strategy for Norwich are to be sown in the city this month.

Sustainable Food Norwich is organising an event beginning the process in partnership with the city council at Blackfriars Hall on November 21.

Among those taking part are officials from Norfolk Public Health, Norfolk Children’s Services, The Papillon Project, the Dozen Bakery, which uses ‘regenerative’ wheat, and Norfolk Organic Growers.

Topics likely to be covered include how the city can source food which is both nutritious and locally grown, the health benefits of improving the quality of hospital food and school dinners as well as using parks and public spaces to grow fruit and salad crops.

The invitation-only meeting is set to kick start the process of creating a new sustainable food strategy for the city which is less reliant on globalised food chains and geared towards a more locally grown system.

Why it matters

The event marks a growing recognition of the importance of sustainable food in dealing with issues ranging from climate change, poor health and poverty.

Food sustainability will also feature in the council’s upcoming city-wide climate action plan.

Sabine Virani, co-ordinator of Sustainable Food Norwich – part of a network of 90 similar groups in the UK - said we are facing food challenges on many fronts both locally and globally.

“The increase in food poverty we have all seen in the last few years has gone up enormously,” she said. “We have got kids who are hungry and malnourished when they turn up for school. Our children are diminished in stature, they can’t learn.

“We have got increasing concerns about food security due to climate change. If you look at the flooding in the UK we are seeing now we can see that the land can’t keep up.

“Our food supply is under threat and yet our diets are filled with processed non-food.

“The system is all wrong. This isn’t about individual choices, it’s about fixing the system, which is extractive at every stage."

Potential harvest

But she said the benefits of local collaboration among local growers, councils, the NHS and schools were huge.

“The idea is about getting edible food everywhere – in public spaces that is free for anybody who wants to take it.

“We can put rosemary bushes, oregano and thyme in all our parks. It makes sense to grow lettuces in urban areas.

Emma Hampton, cabinet member for climate change at Norwich City Council, said taking positive action to change our food system for the better is key to tackling some of our biggest health and social challenges.

"The way we think about food is part of the solution," she said.

Agri-tech East will be bringing together farmer, foresters, land managers and researchers at the Centrum on Monday to discuss how to get practical solutions to climate change into the hands of those who need it most, both in East Anglia, nationally and globally.

Tooth decay

Another week and another grim set of statistics have been unearthed about the state of dentistry in our city.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has released figures showing that 610 people were forced to attend the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last year due to dental decay.

Of those 450 patients were seen in A&E with a dental abscess caused by tooth decay and 160 with dental caries.

"I've always said that the dental crisis is part of a much broader health crisis," he said. "If you let dentistry services crumble, people will end up in agony at A&E."

Read our 'Grin and Bear It' report about the state of our city's dentistry