‘Only warm words’ over local food plan

SHEFFIELD is missing opportunities to make the most of the food that is produced on its doorstep, the Green Party said this week.

Despite the council’s drawing up of a ‘Food Plan’ to encourage producers, retailers and restaurants in the area, the potential for boosting the economy and creating jobs has not been taken seriously, they claimed.

The strategy contained “warm words” but so far council efforts have not been taken seriously.

Green councillor Jillian Creasy said: “Council officers admit that local food production would boost the economy and create jobs. They say that money would be recycled in the Sheffield region rather than adding to the profits of the multinationals, creating up to three times more spending power. They say that ideally 60% of food consumed in Sheffield would come from within 50 miles of the city.

“But the report contains no assessment of how much food is currently produced locally and no plan for how this could be increased, what investment would be needed and how many jobs could be created. The city council owns 7,000 acres of agricultural land of which two-thirds are grassland and arable, with a rental income of over £170,000. The council could have made a start and set an example by investigating if its own farms could produce more food for local sale.”

Critics say that despite rhetoric about community-supported agriculture, where people get together to share the cost of growing or raising food, little has happened. Meanwhile Heeley City Farm and Wortley Hall walled garden are producing and distributing far more local food than all the Sheffield community food growing projects put together and they have the potential to go on increasing production and involving communities.