Peter Couchman is the Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation.

The Plunkett Foundation is the organisation which promotes and supports co-operative and social enterprises in rural communities both in the UK and internationally. It provides support, networks and knowledge which offers practical solutions for rural communities that helps to create thriving places where people live and work now and in the future.

Monday, 15 June 2009

No need to reinvent wheels

The local food sector is brimming with so much innovation at present that it is easy to overlook that which was there long before the current generation. So it was with great pleasure this week that I spent time with Country Markets hearing of its plans for the future.

Country Markets hasn't obtained the profile of other local food initiatives, but its results are impressive. It has 65 market societies operating 400 markets with 12,000 producers. That's 12,000 people creating great food in their own homes and then sharing it with others.

Like Plunkett, Country Markets has been operating for 90 years using the co-operative model. It's a fantastic way that individuals can become involved in local food production. You can find full details and how to find a market on its website.

What excited me most was that this was an organisation not living on its past. It had exciting plans for the future that will transform how its products and its markets are presented. Country Markets was using its role as a partner in Making Local Food Work, the BIG lottery funded programme which Plunkett leads, to ensure a vibrant future. I wish them every success as they represent both a great tradition and a model of individual food production combined with co-operative selling whose time has come.

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