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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Llan resident's recipe for more fresh food

* Robyn Lovelock with her 13-week-old son Harris.

A LLANGOLLEN woman reckons she has the recipe to make it easier for people in the town to get hold of fresh, locally produced food.

Robyn Lovelock, whose career has focused on rural economic development, is setting up a food assembly, which is a new retail model that enables direct trade between local food producers and registered customers.

It aims to do this through an online platform as well as face-to face assemblies like pop-up markets that open outside traditional daytime shop hours.

“Llangollen offers a great range of locally produced food and natural products - but it can be difficult for working people to buy it during business hours,” said Robyn.

“For those customers, the Llangollen Food Assembly will offer an easy, convenient and sociable alternative to supermarkets.
“For local producers, we hope to provide a reliable, efficient and enjoyable retail opportunity.”

Starting in late summer, the Llangollen Food Assembly will take place on Wednesdays from 6-8pm at the Ponsonby Arms on Mill Street, Llangollen.

Customers will be able to quickly pick up their order, spend some time talking with producers or enjoying the pub’s own food and drink.

Elissa Gravells, owner of the Ponsonby Arms who is offering the assembly space for free, said: “It’s an initiative I’m keen to support as it is in line with the pub’s commitment to using fresh, locally-produced food.”

So far, Nant Ucha eggs, Pen Y Lan sausages, Garth Organic produce, Llynclys Hall Farm, Llanvalley Natural Products and Red Rose Cakes have expressed interest in becoming suppliers, according to Robyn.

She said: “There’s still a lot of work to do before we launch as we want to offer a comprehensive range of products to customers.

“I’d like people keen to supply meat products, baked goods  - especially bread - dairy and fruit and vegetables to get in touch along with established businesses and people making products at home, allotment groups with a glut, or anybody just starting out with new products.

This is a great opportunity for suppliers of all shapes and sizes, as they can adjust what theyre selling week by week and only need travel to the weekly food assembly if they’ve met their minimum order, to make sure it’s worth their while.

“The idea is catching on fast in the region, with food assemblies also being set up in Brymbo and Tanyffron. 

Robyn added: “The average farmer in the UK only receives 9-15% of the retail price when supplying through conventional supply chains such as supermarkets.

“The food assembly model means suppliers receive over 80% of the retail price so local producers can invest more in their businesses – employing more people, extending their range of products.

“If we can find more ways to keep that money in the Llangollen area, over time we can increase the number of jobs available and increase investment in local resources – while enjoying good quality food at reasonable prices.”

* For more information, visit the Llangollen Food Assembly Facebook page or call Robyn on 07799 896108.

Food Assembly factfile 

* Customers order their local produce online and pick up their orders from a designated hosting venue every week at a set two-hour time – typically early evening to attract customers who may not be able to buy local products during working hours.

* The idea started in France three years ago and has now expanded to Spain, Germany, the UK and Italy, working with over 4,000 sustainable producers and 500,000 customers. 

* There are currently 11 assemblies up and running throughout the UK in both rural and urban areas with more than 2,000 registered customers and 80 active suppliers. 

* The Food Assembly won the title of Best British Food Initiative at the BBC Food and Farming Awards this year.

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