N8 AgriFood launches Sustainable Food Communities Cluster

Researchers and practitioners working to improve access to sustainable and nutritious food in communities across the North of England are being brought together to form a new knowledge-sharing hub as part of N8 AgriFood’s Sustainable Food Communities Cluster.

N8 AgriFood launched its Cluster initiative earlier this year in a bid to pull together expertise from across its eight member universities in specific areas of food to collectively form a platform with organisations (inc. NGOs and public sector) and businesses to share knowledge, skills and work together to address current societal, environmental and technical challenges. 

The new cluster aims to support initiatives, such as the Sustainable Food Cities (SFC) network, and N8’s regional community as food partnerships emerge and flourish across the UK.  

Cluster Lead Dr Rachel Marshall, from Lancaster University said: “This cluster will increase  combined capacity to inform institutional and government policy, identify practical solutions and address knowledge gaps collaboratively. 

“Importantly a central role of this cluster will be to explore how universities can support the activity of food partnerships and facilitate the sharing of knowledge between the researchers and communities.”

The cluster activity is aligned with themes from the national SFC network including:

  • Tackling Food Poverty
  • Growing a sustainable food economy and procurement culture
  • Addressing health challenges through food
  • Reducing the ecological impact of food

Cluster activity will include regular newsletters sharing research, publications and events around sustainable food city themes, as well as regional events bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers around themes highlighted by cluster members.

To sign up to receive emails and newsletters from the N8 AgriFood Sustainable Food Communities Cluster please email caroline.wilcock@n8agrifood.ac.uk

More about Sustainable Food Communities Cluster Lead Dr Rachel Marshall

Rachel Marshall is an N8 Agrifood Knowledge exchange fellow at Lancaster University. Her work with researchers and stakeholders to develop and co-design projects which look to transform how local food systems function. As cluster lead Rachel wants to ensure that research supports the development of strong SFC partnerships which are looking to tackle the multi-faceted aspects of sustainable food in cities.  

Rachel’s other work in urban food systems includes:

  • a project looking at anchor institution procurement as a tool for developing a local food economy, 
  • working to set-up a local knowledge exchange hub between Lancaster University and the local SFC partnership, 
  • running workshops around food and the climate emergency. 

She is passionate about her local SFC partnership North Lancashire Food Futures and has been taking part in the Lancaster Farmstart initiative to set up a local commercial growing business and training space. She can often be found working at Lancaster’s community growing initiative ‘Spud Club at Claver Hill’.