Food Futures and Lancaster University: Growing practitioner and academic partnerships

Across the N8 university cities, food partnerships have been emerging, growing and flourishing. Academic institutions play an important role in supporting and working in partnership with local initiatives.

Over the coming months, we will be sharing stories of how our N8 community is working to develop collaboration locally and exploring the different approaches taken to support this.

In the first of these stories, we hear from Lancaster and their food partnership FoodFutures.

FoodFutures (North Lancashire’s sustainable food network) is a grassroots initiative that emerged from the Transition Movement in Lancaster.

It has grown to include representatives from the local farming community, local food businesses, public sector, NGOs, community groups and academia.

Initially, academic involvement was through individual connections and collaborations, which led to projects examining areas of interest to the local food community. These included a sustainability audit of Lancaster Charter Market and an N8 pump priming project around procurement.

Recently, the collaboration has received funding from Lancaster University (LU) impact grants to develop a knowledge exchange network between the University and FoodFutures. This will look to maximise the societal impact that research can have through ensuring that knowledge and best practice is shared between academics and practitioners. As a group they have identified where capacity and skills training can support knowledge sharing across the network.

Through this project, the food partnership and LU staff have access to bespoke facilitation training along with funding to develop resources and events linking research with the five themes of the food partnership. In consultation with the local community and the research institutions in North Lancashire, the project team is developing a FoodFutures website and knowledge exchange platform.