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FixOurFood Hybrid Business subsystem: Summer highlights and Achievements

Our mission to promote sustainability in the food supply chain continues to gain momentum through various knowledge exchange and outreach activities. Read about our recent updates on our research, initiatives and collaborations aimed at fostering awareness, innovation, and sustainable practices in the food sector.

Yorkshire Grain Alliance: Promoting Sustainable Grain Practices

The Yorkshire Grain Alliance has been at the forefront of addressing sustainability challenges in the grain supply chain. Ulrike Ehgartner’s work with the Alliance is focused on raising awareness and promoting the cultivation and use of diverse grain varieties, particularly in Yorkshire and its neighbouring regions. These efforts aim to benefit both people and the planet. Recently, the Alliance gathered for a site visit and strategy meeting at Side Oven Bakery, a key player in sustainable baking practices.

Ulrike recently participated in a “Pint of Science” event, where she facilitated dialogue and education around these important issues. The event highlighted the importance of sustainable grain practices and encouraged community involvement in addressing these challenges.

GrowItYork: Pioneering Urban Vertical Farming

Over the past three years, GrowItYork, an urban vertical farm based in Spark York and run by the FixOurFood team, has been exploring innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture. Our produce continues to flourish. We recently carried out a comprehensive evaluation, conducted by Ulrike Ehgartner and Alana Kluczkovski, involving semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, including independent food vendors, community food initiatives, and growing technology providers.

These interviews provided valuable insights into the collaboration dynamics and future prospects of GrowItYork. The findings are being discussed internally and will also be featured in upcoming research papers, contributing to the broader academic discourse on urban farming and sustainability.

Grow It York logo

Sustainable practices in Yorkshire Supply Chains

In collaboration with Professor Melanie Kreye from the University of York’s School for Business and Society (SBS), Ulrike Ehgartner and Bob Doherty are documenting the insights gained from our engagement with various Yorkshire food businesses. This research aims to explore the justice dimensions in both non-conventional and conventional supply chains and will be published in an academic paper. Our work underscores the importance of equity and fairness in sustainable food systems.

Future of Food Module: Engaging Students in Sustainability

The interdisciplinary “Future of Food” module at the University of York, designed with contributions from Ulrike Ehgartner, Bob Doherty, and Katherine Denby, offers a practical approach to understanding food systems. Through workshops on procurement, waste management, and food consumption habits, students engage hands-on in mapping the campus food system and critically evaluating its sustainability. This module leverages FixOurFood’s expertise to foster context-based learning and promote sustainable food practices among students.

Aquaponics in Schools: Hands-On Learning for a Sustainable Future

We are proud to announce that our paper, “Aquaponics in Schools: Hands-on Learning about Healthy Eating and a Healthy Planet,” has been accepted for publication in Nutrition Bulletin.

Link to the paper

Our innovative school initiative, a collaboration with Farm Urban, utilised portable aquaponic pods aligned with the national curriculum to engage students in food production and foster learning about sustainability, climate change, and healthy eating. The evaluation, based on teacher surveys, aquapod chart data, student blogs, postcards, and development team feedback, showed positive impacts on students’ environmental awareness and practical knowledge of sustainability and food production and consumption.

Figure 1: Aquapod images. (a) aquapod scheme showing (i) plants – most plants will grow in an aquaponic system but the easiest and quickest are leafy greens, such as basil, parsley, lettuce and kale, (ii) grow bed – is a soilless environment for plants to spread their roots. Plants live in net pots suspended above the water on a raft, making sure they get oxygen, water and nutrients to thrive, (iii) filter box – is where the bacteria live (microorganisms convert fish waste into the perfect plant food and keep water clear), (iv) fish – provide organic fertiliser through fish waste.

(b) photo of an actual aquapod with fish and leafy greens being grown.

Figure 1: Aquapod images

Ghana Partnership: Advancing Food System Research

Our collaboration with the YESI Fellows Scheme on the project “Leadership, logistics and health in the local leafy green supply chain: policy imperatives from Ghana and UK practice” is progressing well. We are collaborating with Kumasi Technical University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). With visits scheduled in July to Ghana and September to the UK, we are mapping food systems in Kumasi, Ghana, to collect data and share insights. This exchange will foster mutual learning and strengthen our understanding of global food systems.

Addressing Livestock Industry Sustainability

Rebecca Lait has been actively sharing insights on sustainability challenges and unbalanced  power dynamics in the livestock industry through multiple presentations to both academic and non-academic audiences. These presentations, including those at the Pint of Science event, the Leeds and London sustainability conferences, and the University of Oxford’s livestock, environment and people conference, aim to raise awareness and promote sustainable practices within the industry.

Place-based Social Innovation

Ben Fletcher has completed extensive data collection on governance for local food system transformation, contributing to the development of his work on social innovation ecosystems. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of local and regional food strategy and policy development and implementation. Covering the connection between policy, finance, markets, human capital, support networks and culture, this research is actively contributing to ongoing conversations locally and regionally.

Investigating UK Community Food Provision

Additionally, Philip Hadley and Bob Doherty continue their research on the community food / food aid sector through the Fair Food Futures UK project led by Maria Bryant, furthering our understanding of food insecurity, alongside the organisational models and activities aimed at addressing it. We are currently analysing the key learnings from a year of research exploring the food support systems in Bradford and Tower Hamlets (East London), as well as with organisations at a national level. We are producing a series of policy briefings and the findings from the first year will be published in academic papers.

Philip and Bob are also working with Carol Wagstaff (FoodSEqual and University of Reading) as well as colleagues at Cranfield University, to explore why fresh produce supply to the community food / food aid sector is so variable. Through interviews with representatives from organisations across fresh produce supply chains, the research aims to arrive at policy and practice recommendations and the findings will be published in an academic paper.

Our work

We remain dedicated to advancing sustainable food systems through research, collaboration, and education. Stay tuned for more updates on our initiatives and findings.

For more information on our projects and collaborations, visit our outputs web page and subsystem web page.