My name is Anthony Davison FRSA and I am a fifth generation farmer from Bedfordshire. 16 years ago I started a social enterprise called BigBarn, after I saw the onions we grew were marked up from £110/tonne ex farm to £850/tonne at supermarkets.
This massive margin means that if farms sell directly to consumers, they can sell fresher, better food and, with enough customers, be cheaper than the supermarket and make a good profit. Furthermore, consumers can discover real seasonal food and, by chatting to the farmer, influence what is grown and be enthused to cook healthier, cheaper meals.
Many communities are being built this way and some farm shops are linking with schools to enthuse kids about food, showing that potatoes don’t grow on trees and that milk actually comes from cows.
BigBarn helps this process with our constantly updating, and growing, digital local food map that we want everyone to use, share, and add to. So far we have 6,500 local food producers on the map and get 3,500 visitors per day. Producers have a password to tell their story by adding text, images, video, and offers and consumers can get a monthly newsletter with local food news and offers
To help more people buy local, we are launching a new API to allow any website – from the BBC to the RSA – have our map to look as though it is theirs, add to it, and share income.
We’re keen for other Fellows to get involved – join us as:
- Consumers to find local food a register for the newsletter
- A producer/outlet to win customers
- A partner to promote and add to the map and share income on your or colleague’s websites
So to sum up, here is a grace for your next meal, wedding, or Bar Mitzvah:
May we be truly thankful
That we have great food in this land from west to East
And still have farmers to grow and rear regular feast
But let us not become complacent
We must not allow those great big shops
To herd us down their aisles and make us stop
And buy salty ready meals and other such slop
We must buy fresh and direct from local farmers
to encourage them to grow food that doesn’t harm us
Join in and help direct some of the £120 billion spent with UK supermarkets to farmers and local shops with massive economic, and social, benefits for all.
Watch Anthony's pitch at RSA Engage: Cambridge here.
Get in touch with Anthony at [email protected].