Alternative Solutions: New Ways of Food Production and Consumption
  • Room 605, Rolle Building

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Being the essential condition for humans to survive, food has become the priority for national governments and global markets. 

However, the global food system faces more demand for food than is being produced, while waste and pollution threatens food safety. In this workshop a group of social science researchers and food practitioners will present alternative solutions to the standard models of food production and consumption, which will illustrate how local, national and international initiatives respond to the demand for food security. 

While showcasing their projects, the presenters will discuss the issues of healthy life, social cohesion, responsible business models and environmental sustainability and how they relate directly to food security, healthy community and shared profits. 

The programme is inspired by successful community-oriented business models, such as social enterprise, community of interest and cooperatives, which put social and educational benefits first and also know how to generate economic income to support their values. There will be case studies presented on each model and training offered on the evaluation of change and building cooperative structures. The group of presenters will engage the audience with interactive delivery and mini lectures on current market transformation, food security and ethical production and consumption.


09:00-09:30 - Registration and breakfast - Knowing each other


09:30-09:50 - Introduction by Dr Marta Hawkins and Councillor Chris Penberthy. Overview of the current conditions of the market: what do consumers want and what does the planet need today?

09:50-10:20 - Presentation on the University project: Grow. Share. Cook and Thrive Plymouth (Dr Clare Pettinger)

10:20-10:40 - Presentation on the University project: Plant Factory Cornwall (Dr Hail Rihan)

10:40-11:20 - Case studies

11:20-11:40 - Coffee break

11:40-12:40 - How cooperatives and P2P platforms produce and consume food and make profit: challenges and successes. International overview/Q&A (lecture: Dr Katarzyna Gajewska)

12:40-12:50 - Break

12:50-13:30 - Interactive presentations from the organisers

13:30-14:30 - Networking lunch

14:30-14:40 - Closing remarks

This event is open to all - please register your attendance via the above link or contact for further information.

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Today's events

Biography: Dr Marta Hawkins

Marta is Director of the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre, responsible for developing entrepreneurial programmes for students and entrepreneurs and for connecting business community with experts in the Plymouth Business School. She is a researcher in Creative Industries and Cultural Studies, committed to seeking alternatives to dominant industrial and work models, which would benefit people, their communities and environment. She specialises in social entrepreneurship, creativity and authentic branding. 

As a practising filmmaker and a community activist, she has published in the field of visual and consumer culture, urban communities, diasporic studies, and post-communist transformation. She is engaged in projects supporting diversity and entrepreneurial development among disadvantaged groups. She is a peer reviewer of special issues and journals and a recipient of research grants from the AHRC, British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, among others.

Biography: Dr Clare Pettinger

Clare is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) and experienced lecturer at the University of Plymouth, with developing research activities around food poverty, social justice and the 'future of food'.

She recently led a comprehensive process evaluation of the Cities of Service 'Grow Share Cook' project which aimed to address local food poverty issues by encouraging a volunteer network to link the growing (and cooking) of food to the people who need it most. She will present some of the findings of this ongoing local project.

Plant Factory Cornwall

The project aims to facilitate the development and expansion of hydroponic, multi-tier controlled growing environments, utilising renewable energy to provide low carbon, semi-automated crop production. Plant Factory Cornwall will apply existing and new technology to facilitate the development of a new model of propagation and growing to develop new, higher quality options for the horticultural sector tailored to the consumer market.

The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Biography: Dr Hail Rihan

Hail has a PhD in Plant Biotechnology and is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the Plant Factory project at the University of Plymouth. 

Biography: Dr Dave Carter

Dave is a research follow on an Erasmus Plus project seeking to engage young adults not in employment, education or training using non formal training techniques to encourage entrepreneurship through the latest social enterprise business models. The YouACE project coordinates contributions from Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Poland as well as the UK.

Biography: Katarzyna Gajewska

Katarzyna is an independent scholar and writer. She has a PhD in Political Science with the focus on industrial relations. She has been publishing on alternative economy, non-digital peer production, food and health in the political and economic context, universal basic income, and collective autonomy. She focuses on psychological, cultural and emotional aspects of modern and a post-capitalist society. 

In her special presentation, she will introduce the audience to international case studies and her own experience of alternative enterprising models which offer a counter proposition to the mainstream business models domineering the Western market.

Food Plymouth

Food Plymouth (established 2010) is the city’s recognised multi-sector local food partnership and network, performing as a ‘central connecting hub’ for all food-related matters in Plymouth and actively contributing to the 50+ strong Sustainable Food Cities movement

Food Plymouth enabled the city to achieve Sustainable Food Cities bronze status in 2015 and is now coordinating Plymouth’s drive for the silver standard. In keeping with Plymouth’s social enterprise city status, Food Plymouth Community Interest Company (CIC) – a social enterprise, namely a business trading for people and planet – has been supporting, resourcing and enabling the partnership and network since 2015.

Biography: Ian Smith, Food Plymouth

Ian's work as a founder-director of Food Plymouth is part of his portfolio career spanning the domains of community regeneration, social enterprise and education and learning.

Biography: Zoe Nile, Food Plymouth 

Zoe has been involved in sustainable local food initiatives since 2014. She coordinates Food Plymouth, participation of the Grow Share Cook project and the Sugar Smart Plymouth initiative.

Ian Smith and Zoe Nile, Food Plymouth

About the ESRC Festival of Social Science

(extract from the ESRC* website)

The ESRC Festival of Social Science offers a fascinating insight into some of the country's leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future.

You may be surprised at just how relevant the festival's events are to society today. Social science research makes a difference. Discover how it shapes public policy and contributes to making the economy more competitive, as well as giving people a better understanding of 21st century society. From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all everyday - at work, in school, when raising children, within our communities, and even at the national level.

Everyone - from schoolchildren to politicians - can take part in and hear about social science research in the festival's many engaging events.

This celebration of the social sciences takes place across the UK - via public debates, conferences, workshops, interactive seminars, film screenings, virtual exhibitions and much more.

Visit the ESRC Festival of Social Science website for more information about the festival.

* ESRC - Economic and Social Research Council.

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