Embrace tech to support local producers

Open Food Network
United Kingdom (London)

Today the food systems must adapt quickly. Farmers, growers, food businesses, cafes and restaurants are being forced to simultaneously and rapidly change their businesses both in response to the crisis and for survival.

“Our food hubs are really stepping up: delivering food for those self-isolating, coordinating supply chain shifts & taking meals to those in need.”

The good news is that all over the world communities are coming together to support people who are self-isolating or in quarantine. They are finding ways to distribute food effectively while maintaining a physical distance from each other.

The Open Food Network, which provides small-scale farmers with open-source online marketplace software, is working with food businesses across the country to support this fast transition online, is seeing a five-fold increase in its sales across the many small scale suppliers and farmers’ markets they support. Almost overnight, these smaller scale ecological food systems have gone from being ‘niche’ fantasies of a regenerative farming future to a vital source of food for many around the UK.

CEO Lynne Davis (pictured below) started the Dean Forest Food Hub in 2013, to try and create an alternative food system in the forest to give small producers an easy route to local market and consumers access to affordable, good quality local food. Today she runs Open Food Network is global, with contributors across Australia, the US, South Africa, Belgium and more.

Embracing tech and being part of digital eco-systems ensured that Open Food Network has been able to adapt quickly – and to prepare for future challenges. “We were able to respond so quickly because so much was already online – we were well networked,” explains the agro-ecological economist and social technologist. “One of the great things about the digital cohort is that we already felt flexibility to act.”

“Our national community of food hubs are really stepping up,” Lynne adds, “delivering food for those self-isolating, coordinating supply chain shifts and taking meals to folks that need them. I work with heroes!”

AtlasAction: Here’s how to use the platform and a list of the Network’s active shopfronts to support local producers in the UK and shop online while in lockdown.

Read more: It has become crystal clear that food is one of the most valuable things in our lives. Read this guest post by soil obsessed physicist-farmer Abby Rose, who ponders Open Food Network and how people, when they come together, can make massive changes very quickly.

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (04 May 2020)

Project leader

Lynne Davis, CEO

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