I’ve spent the last several days on a research trip in Exeter .. oh ok.. a research trip combined with just a little bit of a cycling in gorgeous weather in the countryside trip. But that was opportunism. My main reason for coming down here was to visit Jo and Kevin who run a social enterprise called Love Local Food. Their mobile shop and educational activities have been a source of inspiration and admiration for us for a while now and it seemed there was some learning to be had by coming to see everything they’ve done.
As the moment is fast approaching when we will be acquiring our own van to turn into a mobile greengrocery shop, it was of pressing interest to inspect Love Local Food’s two mobile shops that do the rounds of Exeter 5 days a week. You can see some photographs on our Flickr. There will be lots of work to do to convert Cultivate’s vehicle to something as well fitted-out as these – we’re putting together a working group of members to help out with the job, and we’d love for you to get involved. We’re looking specifically for members who have expertise in carpentry and electrics, who have been involved in fitting out vehicles before, or who just have time to spare for researching the best options for purchasing tills, scales and other equipment. Send us an email if you’d like to help.
What’s unexpectedly great about Exeter, apart from the agrarian landscape, is the amount of local food activity going on here. Apart from visiting Love Local Food’s warehouse and going out on a van round with them, in the few days I’ve been here I’ve also visited Shillingford Organics, an impressive growing operation incorporating a several hundred customer box scheme; spent the day with OrganicARTS and farmer Andy Bragg at West Town Farm, where around 20 volunteers were working on the community garden and a horde of school children were looking at badger skulls, amongst other numerous educational and cultural activities; had lunch at a great farmers’ market; and had a meeting with one of the founders of the Exeter Real Food Store, a community-owned enterprise that was set up last year to sell a huge range of local produce in the middle of the city. Inspiring. …Lots to do Oxford.