Digging and dreaming at The Community Farm

IMG_0463Words by Ciaran Mundy

Last Week Bristol Pound team went to The Community Farm for a team building event facilitated by Dan Start. Dan is one of the South Wests best known writers and publishers about all things wild and The Community Farm is an award winning Coop producing  fresh foods for people and businesses around Bristol. Both Ian Sumpter at The Community Farm and Dan helped us out for free for which we are so grateful.

The Bristol pound Team started as almost exclusively voluntary, but as of the beginning of 2014 the team have been successful in bringing a major EU, Tudor Trust and Technology Strategy Board funding to Bristol to help develop the scheme along professional lines. Making such a change is not so simple however and we wanted to stay in touch with the voluntary spirit and the values that underpin the teams work and the scheme as a whole.

IMG_0476For the first half of the day Dan Start helped us examine the core values behind our work and do some visioning of what we hope the scheme can help Bristol become in the next 10 years. It was at times moving, sometimes funny and also tricky navigating fundamental things that touch on both personal and professional motivations, but it was worth it and I certainly felt more grounded and motivated as a result. Thank you team and thank you Dan.
After a shared ‘pot-luck’ lunch we mused on what we had discussed and made some important commitments while digging the soil in one of the farm’s big poly tunnels, ready to plant out rows of salads. We made some important commitments about how we work as a scheme and  you’ll be hearing more about that very soon.
Written by Ciaran Mundy

Bristol shopkeepers delivery service offers alternative to supermarkets

As published on Guide2Bristol.

shopstogetherIndependent shopkeepers in Bristol are offering an alternative to supermarkets with the launch of a new same day home delivery service.

Seven shops on Bristol’s famous Gloucester Road have joined up as Shopstogether.com. Shoppers can shop online, selecting a range of food, wine and household goods from Joes Bakery, The Fish Shop, The Olive Shed, Grape and Grind, La Ruca, Oxley’s Butchers and Bargain World.

Shopstogether.com is the brain child of Gloucester Road fishmonger Dan Stern. Dan told Guide2Bristol, “We know many people want to shop local but work and other pressures means this is not always easy. Parking, work and child care can all be barriers and the situation is not helped by supermarkets opening on or near high streets. We hope this new home delivery service can help,” says Stern, owner of the The Fish Shop.

Shopstogether.com has also partnered with the Bristol Pound so people can pay for their shopping with a local currency.

Michael Lloyd-Jones from the Bristol Pound says his organisation wholeheartedly supports the new scheme: “How we eat and shop for what we eat is becoming a mainstream issue for many people. Bristol is helping to lead this change. People want to buy locally from real people they know and trust. And local shopping means more money stays in Bristol which has to be a good thing!”

Shopstogether.com currently delivers to BS6 and BS7 postcodes with plans to deliver Bristol wide in the coming months. Delivery costs £2.99 and shoppers need to spend a minumum of £30 across the any of the seven shops involved. It is believed to be first service of its kind in the Southwest but similar concepts operate in London and Manchester.

Shopstogether.com was designed by Bristol webdesigners responsible for another local shopping website The Bristol Shop, which sells a range products that have been designed and made by people in Bristol.


Bristol Pounding the Pavements with GoodGym Bristol

Written by GoodGym Bristol

What a scorcher! For the latest GoodGym run we it was a glorious day, with not a cloud in the sky.

goodgym6This week’s task was to help the Bristol Pound provide more information to the shops that accept the Bristol Pound. This meant taking a load of envelopes full of information dropping them off at shops in Stokes Croft and up the Gloucester Road.

goodgym4We met at Roll for the Soul as usual at 11am and started by completing the packing of the letters and sorting them into the different areas of Bristol. We ran out through Stokes Croft, stopping at the Bear Pit for a pretty special warm up, joined by some of the colourful residents!goodgym3We then ran up the length of Gloucester Road, dropping off the information packs at the shops on the way, running in bursts as we went, dodging the crowds and trying to resist all of the tasty food. After we completed the drop offs we upped the pace to head back to Roll for the Soul. Great work all round!


No Bristol Pound, no food! Bristol Food Connections and Bristol Pound Food Challenge

By Chris Parsons.

Bristol Pound helped shine the spotlight on the importance of our food networks at this year’s inaugural Bristol Food Connections.

The huge event, held over eleven days at the start of May across the whole of Bristol, attracted over 175,000 visitors and included celebrity chef demonstrations, BBC programme recordings and local shop promotions.

Bristol Pound featured at many participating stallholders and businesses but there were also a couple of more unique nods to our local currency too.

No Bristol Pound, no food!

Kristin Sponsler, Director of several local sustainability organisations such as Sims Hill Shared Harvest and Bristol Food Network, undertook a festival-long challenge to buy and consume only food bought using her Bristol Pound account.

“I grew up on an Iowa farm and my father lived through the Dust Bowl and the Depression so I always had an understanding of the importance of conservation and local food networks,” says Kristin, explaining her motivation.

That drive for a local connection to food made this particular challenge ideal given Bristol Pound’s Farmlink initiative, which helps primary producers find commercial outlets for their produce within the city.

The challenge proved a stiff test, highlighting the need for even better infrastructure to link local producers to local consumers, but Kristin made it through with only one small diversion. You can read all about the journey in her blog, compiled as one of Bristol’s Good Food Diaries.

Time for a Real Economy

Bristol Pound also had a stake in one of the big launches of the Food Connections festival – the unveiling of Real Economy, a scheme designed to address exactly the problem Kristin noted.

As Bea Oliver, Real Economy’s Co-ordinator explains, the scheme aims to “help provide access to fresh, local food. Especially in areas where that access may seem currently limited.”

At Food Connections, this generated pop-up markets in Knowle West, Barton Hill, Hengrove and Easton giving independent local producers a platform for their business and offering each community alternative food and drink choices at direct prices.

Whilst the successful and popular markets are likely to be repeated across the city in future months, since the festival the focus of Real Economy has switched to its other core function: buying groups.

Bringing people and producers together

“The idea is to introduce groups of consumers within a local area to nearby producers from whom they can order their food as a collective,” says Bea.

Real Economy provides ordering tools for the group to use and then they simply arrange a mutually convenient time and location for delivery. “As well as providing easier access to good food and receptive consumers, we think there are lots of other potential benefits like improving health, building communities and reducing food miles,” says Bea.

Buying groups will also be introduced to Bristol Pound too, with accounts and special incentives set up for them. These “jam jar accounts,” as Bea calls them, help individuals separate out money specifically for buying food and also allow them to transfer money between members easily using the Bristol Pound’s simple electronic transfer service.

If you’re interested in finding out about joining or starting a buying group near you, regardless of where you live, then drop Bea a line at bea@bristolpound.org or call 0117 9298642.