Feeding Manchester #12

Feeding Manchester #12 took place on Saturday 23 March at the Friends Meeting House in Bolton. Following the success of the previous Feeding Manchester #11 in Prestwich, we ventured out of the city centre for a second time.

The event was organised, with the input and support of members of different Bolton food initiatives including Transition Town Bolton and The Kitchen Co-op. Despite being planned in late March to avoid winter weather, several guest speakers and a number of attendees were unable to join us at the last minute due to heavy snow.

Fortunately, the weather in Greater Manchester wasn't too bad and public transportation was still running so most of us did manage to make it in the end and the event still drew over 30 dedicated members of Greater Manchester's sustainable food network.

While it was a great shame to lose the opportunity to learn from other projects like the Incredible Farm and the Blackpool Federation of Allotment Associations (who both had to cancel due to the snow) we quickly reorganised the day to ensure that we could still discuss the variety of topics we had planned on.

After registration, the day began with a brief introduction by Nona, the Feeding Manchester co-ordinator who passed on apologies from those who were unable to make it. We then moved on to an overview of the projects taking place in Bolton, presented by Alan from Transition Town Bolton. He discussed the Bolton Gathering of Organic Growers (GOG) and gave an overview of a variety of food-growing projects in the area at schools, allotment sites and community gardens. Alan shared a time-line to provide perspective on the growth and evolution of food-related projects in the area. Next we had short presentations from Harper's Lane Allotment Society and Incredible Edible Bromley Cross who introduced us to their projects.

Next on the agenda was a speech on 'Food-growing in wet climates'. Because Nick, from Incredible Farm, was unable to make it due to weather conditions we broke out into working groups to compile different strategies we've used as individuals, growers and groups to help prepare for a changing climate. While it was unfortunate that our speaker could not attend, the very presence of such a snow-storm during the end of March highlighted the need to build more resilience into our food-growing systems!

Following this was a short tea break where attendees were asked to fill us in on their activities during the previous and upcoming months on flip charts labelled 'Where have you been?' and 'Where are you going?'

Once we returned from our brews we were given a presentation on the Foodlink project and their new Foodlink Card and SELF-trust and then broke into groups to discuss different challenges facing the project. Foodlink Manchester has been working alongside Feeding Manchester for the last 18 months and works to support local food producers and businesses. Their new SELF-trust scheme has been designed for Supporters-and-Enthusiast of Local Foods to help interested parties Explore, Discover and Enjoy local foods and connect with other groups to create a network throughout the region. If you are interested in learning more or possible developing your own Foodlink SELF-trusts please contact countymgr@foodlinkmanchester.org.uk

By this point, we were all very hungry so very happy to break for a delicious lunch from The Kitchen Coop on Great Moor St. We were served home-made soup, bread and gozleme, a Turkish-variety of stuffed bread. The lunch break gave participants a great chance to chat, reconnect and share ideas.

After lunch we had a session of '5-minute presentations' where several groups were given 5 minutes to present 20 slides with only 15 seconds for each slide. This presentation-style allows multiple groups to give brief introductions to their projects. We heard about the Forgotten Fields project which documents the food history of Greater Manchester, the new Moss Bank Food Hub initiative designed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and FarmStart, a new programme designed to develop and support new growers.

We ended the day with a brief discussion of visioning. Feeding Manchester #4 involved a day of visioning where groups from across Manchester cam together to develop a strategy for developing our food system sustainably. At the next Feeding Manchester we will be revisitng this document as we discuss the future of Feeding Manchester and how we can continue to work as a network to achieve our goals. You can see the previous document here.

The primary questions which will be addressed at Feeding Manchester #13 are:

  1. What does a Greater Manchester sustainable food city look like?

  2. How do we work together to make this happen?

  3. What's missing from the vision now?

  4. What is the role of and relationship with local authorities?


Despite the weather, we managed to have a productive and inspiring day and we hope everyone will look forward to our visioning exercise at the next event this summer!