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Growing Things

Getting the GCFN website developed has been an interesting new challenge for me. I’d never worked alone on a project like this before, from producing a design brief to getting quotes and then steering our wonderful developers, NorthColour, through changes and testing and so on before we finally went live this week. It's very rewarding to see it up and running now though, and especially to see interesting people and projects getting involved as Members. There are still a few parts of the site to be opened up and we’re always open to new ideas. Please use the feedback form or email us at [email protected] to let us know what else you think we could be doing here to help build a better food system for Glasgow.

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GCFN officially came into being in June of last year but the landmark of launching the website has caused me to reflect on what the Network has achieved so far. We established GCFN as a Community Interest Company back in May. As a large membership CIC, we have co-operative principles embedded into our constitution and our work is very much member-driven. We’ve held three seasonal networking events from which we’ve received extremely positive feedback, not least around the food provided by great groups like  The Real Junk Food Project, Ruzbowl and Soul Food Sisters! These events have a theme – our most recent one looked at “Fair Food, Dignified Distribution” – and are free to attend. We enjoy a shared lunch, hear from some interesting speakers and then discuss some of the key challenges our members face. Lots of great information has come out of these events which guides our future work, but one of the biggest benefits of these events has been just getting such a range of people in one room together to share a meal and their ideas. Working with food can often be a lonely and stressful experience for volunteers and paid staff alike, whether they work in farming, retail, food service, community work or redistribution. Building a sense of camaraderie and making new personal connections is one of the great intangible benefits of a strong Network.

That’s not the only benefit though. In October our theme was local food production. Many of the issues discussed there were then developed by our friends at Propagate, whose Roots To Market research is published this week. This work, supported by GCFN, looked into questions surrounding growing food for profit in Glasgow. Discussions were held with restaurants and cafés and aspiring growers (including me!) as well as other stakeholders. That work has already led to developments around creating growers’ co-operatives and some of us may even have found some land to work too. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, if you’re someone who grows, works with or eats food in Glasgow, please sign up here and become a member. We don’t charge anything for membership or for attending our events. We send out a newsletter roughly once per month too, so if you have news to share, please get in touch with us any time at [email protected]. This is your Network and it can only grow with your help.