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Pembroke 21c Local Food Project

28 Oct 2014 - Case study

Established in 2001, Pembroke 21C Community Association exists to work closely with the whole community encouraging pride and community spirit in Pembroke. It promotes the benefits of living and working together, in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. 

 

The group own and manage Pembroke’s Community Centre and run a number of projects identified and requested by the community during a community wide consultation process which produced the Pembroke 2020 Community Plan.  The projects include Pembroke Farmers Market, environmental management of the Pembroke Millponds, management of Holyland Community Woodland, The Pembroke Story heritage project, St Oswald’s Community Garden and the Network community newsletter.

The Project:

With DEFRA estimating that up to 20 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions relate to food, the Pembroke Local Food Project was set up to change behaviour in relation to growing and purchasing local and seasonal food, as well as composting to reduce food waste, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The project was based on a comprehensive Scoping Report, carried out with Stage 1 SSL funding, that suggested that savings in an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions of up to 3% could be made through changes in food behaviour.  This informed a pilot project that targeted at Pembroke residents, and used Community-Based Social Marketing techniques to identify and help overcome some of the barriers to sustainable food habits, focusing on shopping, growing, cooking, eating and waste of food. The project was piloted in 2012 and then refined and piloted again in 2013.

A number of practical activities were undertaken to engage participants. These included establishing a community garden, holding demonstrations, ‘low-carbon’ cook off events, using a ‘Local Food’ logo and providing details on the supply chain, developing relationships with local producers and retailers,  and using a ‘container garden’ to demonstrate how much can be achieved in a small space with minimal time, cost and resources. Pembroke residents were also encouraged to keep food diaries and undertake surveys to measure their food behaviours. In addition to outreach events, other activities included raising awareness on the project’s bilingual website, attending seminars and running training events.

The Results:

The target of enabling participants to make a 3% reduction in their carbon emissions as a result of changing behaviours around food proved very difficult to measure. In the first pilot, behavioural change was recorded through pre- and post-intervention questionnaires; however only 32 of the 626 participants engaged with the project completed both questionnaires making an accurate calculation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction impossible. The group calculated a saving of 11.42 tonnes p.a. of those completing both questionnaires. If this figure is applied to all 626 of those attending events or using the PembrokeLocalFood website, the impact may have been as much as 220 tonnes p.a. but this is impossible to say with any certainty.

In the second pilot, some different ways to record changes in behaviour were trialled including food diaries and more face to face contact with participants. 1,530 people were initially targeted by the project and results showed that 1,269 people engaged in its activities. Of the 129 people who completed questionnaires, 82% were now buying more locally grown vegetables and almost 87% composting their own food waste.  The target of increasing the number of local producers selling to the town’s retailers was met, as was the target to encourage and enable 3 of the retailers to stock 50% more local and seasonal product.

This suggests that the project has made significant impacts in achieving its desired outcomes. However, the capture of reliable data to measure greenhouse gas emission reduction remained difficult and in reality, too few people completed food diaries and questionnaires for any conclusions to be drawn about the impact on individual emissions.

Although there was frustration in not being able to capture more robust evidence of the project impact, anecdotal feedback suggests that the project has made a difference to people’s habits which will be easier to maintain now that the project has also enabled greater availability of local and seasonal produce. One of the key lessons learnt during the project is the importance of engaging with consumers and using their ability to influence upstream.

“If the consumers can be persuaded over time of the benefits of seeking locally grown and produced food and demand it then shops and cafes may start to make more of an effort to stock it.” 


 

Downloadable resources

Pathfinder Programme

A Welsh Government funded programme to support communities to take action on climate change.

Community Energy Wales

Bringing together communities acting on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Support For Sustainable Living

A scheme designed to bring about long-term changes in behaviour and lifestyle to help reduce Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions and help organisations and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.