PFLA launches its Regional Groups Strategy
Building on a number of existing groups, the PFLA is seeking to support its membership at a more local level. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has granted the association significant £250,000 seed-funding to help do this over the next three years.
“As the PFLA has grown to more than 600 members, the collegiate culture of the organisation, which developed naturally from the start, will be better served by a regional structure and the additional networking it will bring,” explains the PFLA’s Jimmy Woodrow.
“We shall nurture existing groups like those in the South East and the Cotswolds and seek to establish additional groups around the country to a total of 20 or more.”
Working locally will bring many benefits, including being able to deliver more farmer-to-farmer education, which acknowledges the variations in local traditions, soils, terrain, breeds and climate.
Certified producers – who produce independently audited 100% grass-fed meat and dairy, will be encouraged to work together to develop local supply chains, identify regional processing hubs and work with butchers and retailers to promote Pasture for Life branded food.
The groups will also be encouraged to develop relationships with like-minded partner organisations spanning the farming, food and conservation sectors in their area, such as the Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB.
The formation of the Regional Group Strategy comes out of a six-month consultation with PFLA members. One survey showed 21% were already in a local group, while half said they would be willing to help co-ordinate a new group in the future.
As well as in the South East and the Cotswolds, there are already other potential regional groups based in the lowlands of Scotland, South Wales, Cumbria, Herefordshire, Wessex, Devon and Cornwall.
Regional Development Manager
The PFLA has appointed Charlotte Wheeler, who has experience of managing farms regeneratively in the UK and USA, as part-time regional development manager. She will be responsible for overseeing part-time regional facilitators, who will be tasked with co-ordinating activities within each group.
“By working regionally we shall be able to reach many more farmers, butchers and consumers looking to grow, sell and buy high quality, healthy, 100% pasture-fed meat and dairy,” says Mr Woodrow. “This will help to drive positive change in the farming and food systems.”
South East meeting
The first meeting of the South East Regional Group heard from two entrepreneurs running a pilot project looking to create a new supply of leather for fashion markets made from hides of pasture-raised animals.
Other speakers included Gary Corps from The Dorking Butchery, Surrey who said that working alongside like-minded, Pasture for Life farmers, who pour their passion into traditional farming methods, is a positive step for their butchery.