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FixOurFood: transforming Yorkshire’s food system

At last month’s BioVale Roundtable we heard from our new member Professor Katherine Denby about FixOurFood, a 5 year project that she is working on focused on transforming the Yorkshire food system into one which gives environmental, social and economic benefits i.e. a Regenerative Farming (RF) system. The topic sparked a good deal of debate amongst the Roundtable attendees as we found that the food system touched many areas of the bioeconomy from food production to delivery, consumption and health.

Fix Our Food

FixOurFood is funded by the Transforming UK Food System, Strategic Priorities Fund Programme and brings together expertise from across the country from organisations including University of York, University of London, University of Oxford, Grow Yorkshire, Cranfield University, The Food Foundation, Spark and University of Leeds. Together the partners are focusing on three specific research areas:

Regenerative Farming

Regenerative farming practices can include a wide variety of activities like cover cropping, crop rotation and use of smart technologies. The benefits of this system of farming include:

  • addressing decline in soil quality
  • tackling climate change through carbon and nitrogen sequestration
  • enhancing terrestrial biodiversity
  • improving water quality
  • increasing agricultural productivity with social benefits

FixOurFood aims to identify which RF practices are currently being used in the region and to what extent, what barriers are in place that prevent more widespread use of these practices and the potential for growth of RF practises.

Hybrid business models

FixOurFood will develop hybrid business models that value environmental and social benefits as well as challenge the traditional models that focus on financial gain. The project has lots of activities planned in this area including; the development of ‘Food Hubs’, vertical farming, working with entrepreneurs in the food sector and developing new public procurement supply chains to schools and holiday clubs.

Sustainable and healthy food for children

The FixOurFood project has a number of ambitions around sustainability and healthy food for children including:

  • making sustainable and good quality food available in early years and schools, with a focus on those who need it most
  • improving food education
  • improving nutritional value of food available in schools

FixOurFood has assembled a group of children called Leaders for Change. The children are aged from between 6 and 16, and will represent the schools that are working collaboratively on the project. The group will contribute ideas to the project and enable them to inform the transformation process.

FixOurFood’s other planned activities to improve the food system for children include co-designing school menus, developing new educational approaches to tackle climate change and developing new models of food procurement.

Policy & Governance

Transformation of the food system will require changes in current policy and governance. The FixOurFood project will identify how to overcome current policy and governance barriers and enable decision makers to deliver a regenerative food system.

Three Horizons Tool

The project is using the Three Horizons tool which is helping to identify current patterns within the food system, what is not working within them and how things can be changed to transform the system into one which is regenerative.

Making Connections

The FixOurFood project holds opportunities for the bioeconomy in this region and at BioVale we are excited by the potential for connections between the project and our members, particularly amongst our food entrepreneurs. Indeed if you would like to be connected to the project please get in touch and we will be happy to introduce you.

Sara Goodhead

BioVale Cluster Administrator