New Living Library launched to influence sustainable food systems

Various jars, packets and bottles of food displayed in outdoor market display setting

Photo credit: Andrea Marescotti/ConServe

Wednesday 25 May 2022

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A new ‘Living Library’ showcasing good-practice examples of collaborative short food supply chains has been launched.

The resources form part of the Collaborative Agri-food Chains (COACH) project co-ordinated by a team of researchers from Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience.

COACH looks to facilitate collaboration between farmers, consumers, and local governments to scale up short food supply chains to help rebalance farmers’ position in the market and drive innovation in territorial food systems.

Short food supply chains are defined as having a limited number of economic operators, committed to local development, and maintaining close geographical and social relations between food producers, processors, and consumers. They offer an alternative to more globalised, corporate food systems, providing a means to meet environmental and social needs.

The COACH consortium is made up of a diverse network of organisations, including farmers’ organisations, universities, civil society networks and a major network of local governments committed to sustainable urban development.

The new digital resource includes more than 30 concrete examples of how collaboration can help to scale up short agri-food chains to create win-wins for producers and consumers and drive locally led innovation. 

The launch of the Living Library and the good practice examples, known as “beacons”, is an important milestone in the consortium’s efforts to facilitate knowledge and information exchange.

Professor Moya Kneafsey, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

Additional materials including policy briefs, scientific articles and multimedia toolkits will be continuously uploaded during the three-year project.

The COACH consortium hopes that the Living Library will be an invaluable information hub for farmers, civic food networks, consumers, and policy makers, to support the transition to agroecology-based food systems across Europe.

At a European level, collaboration between different local actors is essential to ensure the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy (which aims to build fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food systems), includes the measures and tools needed to truly “leave no one behind”. In particular, the project’s focus on sustainable public sector food procurement looks to inform the legislative framework for sustainable food systems being developed by the EU.

The Living Library is an important tool to bring the experiences of small and medium-scale farmers to the attention of policy makers. The organisations involved in COACH believe that authorities should implement public policies that prioritise the needs of food producers and consumers to achieve collaborative short food chains and encourage the growth of territorial food systems.

Professor Moya Kneafsey, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

Find out more about the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience.