Stirling Food Assembly celebrates its first birthday this Thursday (5 October), having sold a whopping 2800 baskets of produce and generated over £55,000 for the local economy.
To mark the occasion and stir up even more local interest in the scheme, the popular online food market is hosting a free tasting session at Stirling Cycle Hub from 4.30-6.30pm with everything from locally made cheese and sourdough bread to organic beef and seasonal veg.
The eco-friendly initiative, which encourages consumers to shop local, was launched last autumn by Stirling based charity Forth Environment Link and is now ranked among the top three Food Assemblies in UK.
Food Hub Officer, Stuart Guzinski said: “The market was an immediate hit with the local community, attracting 100 orders in its first week, and has gone on to outperform markets in major UK cities such as London. Unlike with the big supermarkets, our producers keep almost all the profits; with each weekly market generating an average of £1000 for the local economy.”
The Food Assembly scheme, which originated in France, aims to connect shoppers with the people who make or grow food in their local area. The average distance travelled by producers to the Stirling market is 16 miles, cutting down the journey between farm and fork. Users can simply click and collect their order, with pickups from Stirling Cycle Hub on a Thursday or Friday.
One of the Assembly’s most loyal customers, Eve Keepax, who has placed an order nearly every week since it was launched, said: “The Food Assembly is a great way to shop and the food tastes great. I like how the farmers and producers deliver their weekly order in person, so you can chat to the people who make or grow your food. Shopping local has also greatly reduced the number of food miles in my diet. Knowing what is available and being able to order it in advance also means I don’t waste food, as I can plan my meals out for the week.”
In the past 12 months, the market has grown from 9 producers to 36, and now offers everything from fruit, veg and eggs to seafood, raw cakes and hand roasted coffee.
One of the key principles of the Food Assembly movement is to reduce food waste. Ylva Haglund, Food Waste Campaigns Manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Our Love Food Hate Waste campaign is about helping people value and make the most of their food. Being a member of a Food Assembly is a fantastic way to enjoy delicious food, meet local producers and make connections that help us appreciate our food. Congratulations to Stirling Food Assembly on their huge success in the past year.”
As part of the Assembly’s birthday celebrations there’ll be a special screening of the award-winning film Just Eat It at Codebase, Stirling’s new digital hub, on Saturday 7 October at 2pm.
The movie follows filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant who quit grocery shopping and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away; shining a spotlight on the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year. Tickets for the screening are available online from Stirling Food Assembly.
The movie will be accompanied by an optional pay-as-you-feel vegetarian lunch of intercepted food served up by The Real Junk Food Project – Edinburgh.